These Schools Get Millions Of Tax Dollars To Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students

LYNCHBURG, Va. ― Sunnie Kahle used to think that if she promised to be good, she could go back to her old school.

She’d plead with her great-grandmother to let her enroll again at Timberlake Christian Schools, where she had gone since she was 3 years old. Even if teachers were mean to her, even if other kids said bad things about her, she wouldn’t be mad. She just wanted her old life back.

Her great-grandmother and guardian, Doris Thompson, 74, didn’t know how to tell Sunnie she wasn’t allowed back at the school. Administrators didn’t want her there. In a 2014 letter to Thompson that essentially expelled Sunnie, the school referenced several passages from the Bible as to why they wouldn’t take her back. They suggested Sunnie wasn’t acting “Christlike” by wearing her hair short and preferring pants to skirts.

Sunnie was 8 years old. She wasn’t traditionally feminine enough for them.  

Timberlake Christian Schools in Virginia is one of over at least 700 religious schools in America currently receiving public money while openly advertising and practicing anti-LGBTQ policies, HuffPost has found in a new investigation.

HuffPost has been examining private schools that receive taxpayer dollars through voucher or tax credit programs. We created a database of more than 7,000 schools in 25 states and the District of Columbia with private school choice programs that give public money to private religious schools. 

In the first story of this investigation, which we published earlier in December, we looked at what was being taught. We discovered thousands of schools that used evangelical Christian curricula, largely considered inaccurate and unscientific. In our second article, we singled out a handful of schools that purported to be secular but maintained strong ties to the Church of Scientology. For this story, we researched the number of schools in our database that practice discrimination toward LGBTQ students and staff members.

We visited every website of each school in search of evidence of their attitudes and policies on gender-nonconforming and LGBTQ students. If a school did not advertise a specific policy, we followed up via email or a call. For Catholic schools, we looked for diocese-wide policies on these issues. Often, these schools had policies against heterosexual sex before marriage, as well.

We found at least 14 percent of religious schools take an active stance against LGBTQ staff and students. Some of these schools have policies on their websites generally broadcasting their opposition to same-sex marriage or even stating their belief that homosexuality is a sin on par with bestiality. Others have harsher policies ― specifically stating that students can face punishments, like expulsion, for displaying signs of a “homosexual lifestyle” or “alternate gender identity.” At least 5 percent of these schools also have explicit policies against hiring or retaining LGBTQ staff.

On the other hand, we also found many schools that have policies specifically protecting students from discrimination based on sexual orientation.  

Many more of these schools belong to larger churches that preach anti-LGBTQ sentiment. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is “opposed to homosexual practices and relationships,” per the denomination’s website. The Roman Catholic Church says marriage can occur only between a man and woman. We did not assume that schools identifying with these groups were hostile places for LGBTQ students. In our count, we included only schools (or dioceses) that had a specific anti-LGBTQ policy. In that way, our numbers represent a bare minimum of schools where LGBTQ students may encounter hostility.

Religious schools are generally exempt from the types of regulations that would protect students and teachers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. It’s only in recent years, though, that these schools have received an injection of taxpayer funds with the rise and expansion of state-level private school choice programs.

Since President Donald Trump and his secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, have expressed the desire to use federal dollars to increase private school choice, it’s worth closely examining which students are served and which are not. 

After Sunnie was kicked out of Timberlake, her great-grandma transferred her to public school. Thompson, who is emphatic when she talks about Sunnie, in the way only proud grandmas do, has a tattoo on her wrist that says, “Family is forever.”

Sitting in her living room, the walls lined with photos of Sunnie, here in this city just a couple of hours from Richmond, the Virginia capital, Thompson explained how she came to be Sunnie’s guardian. It’s a complicated tale of mental illness and addiction, but since Sunnie was 2 months old, Thompson has been her protector.  

In February of 2014, when Sunnie was in the second grade, the school principal sent a letter home to Thompson saying that, although Sunnie was a “very bright girl,” she recommended that Sunnie not re-enroll the next year if she wasn’t able to “dress” and behave accordingly with her “God-ordained identity” as a female.

Thompson pulled her out of the school immediately.

“They pretty much ruined a little girl’s life,” said Thompson, who helps with her husband Carroll’s truck repair business.

Sunnie didn’t attend Timberlake using a publicly funded scholarship through Virginia’s tax credit program for low-income students. But the year she was kicked out, other students did. During the fiscal year of 2014, Timberlake received $104,121.57 in scholarships. That number has increased. For the fiscal year of 2017, the school received $237,500, per the Virginia Department of Education.

In Virginia, tax credits are given to individuals and corporations that donate to scholarship programs. These scholarship groups then help low-income students attend private schools. Voucher programs are more direct: Taxpayer funds help provide voucher scholarships for students who meet certain requirements to attend private schools.

A 2016 analysis of voucher program rules conducted by Indiana University professor Suzanne Eckes found that not a single one had protections preventing discrimination for LGBTQ students. Eckes did not include tax credit programs in her research.

So HuffPost conducted a similar analysis including programs that were left out by Eckes. We found the same trend. Only one state’s program, Maryland’s, protected students from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While in our research we found a handful of Maryland schools that expressed opposition to same-sex marriage and homosexuality, each stopped short of saying they would deny these students admission.

DeVos has been pressed before on if private schools receiving federal money under a possible voucher program would be required to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination. In June, testifying before a Senate subcommittee, DeVos said that such a program would have to follow federal law.

Indeed, in an email to HuffPost, a spokesperson for DeVos emphasized the fact that there is no federal voucher program and that, if there were, it “would have to comply with federal law.”

The problem is federal law is murky.

The Obama administration interpreted Title IX ― the federal law banning sex discrimination in schools ― to include protections for LGBTQ students. The Trump administration seems to think these decisions should be made at the local level.

“There’s no federal protections for LGBTQ students outside of Title IX,” said Nathan Smith, director for public policy for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “We still think it covers LGBTQ students, despite the fact that this administration doesn’t think so.”

Advocates of school choice emphasize that anti-LGBTQ bullying is a problem in all schools, not just private religious ones that participate in voucher programs. They preach the bigger cause of giving parents the ability to choose the most appropriate school for their child. Indeed, voucher programs are typically targeted to low-income families who normally wouldn’t be able to afford the private school of their choice.

“I abhor discrimination and I would hope that schools would not discriminate against LGBTQ students even if the issue is part of their statements of faith,” wrote Robert Enlow, CEO and president of EdChoice, an education reform group, in an email. “I also recognize, though, that we live in a pluralistic society that values choice, individual freedom and an abiding respect for all faiths. I trust parents to make the best choices for their kids based on their shared values and goals.”

But Thompson hopes leaders at Timberlake know that their interpretation of faith is one without merit. 

I feel sorry for them,” Thompson said, referring to administrators at Timberlake, “if they have to answer and stand before our God one day.”

The 74-year-old describes Sunnie as the great love of her life. Even after raising two kids and helping with three grandkids, Sunnie is her ultimate baby. The child has always been fiercely loyal and unfailingly independent, and she has a heart as sweet as apple pie, Thompson said, beaming with pride when asked about Sunnie’s personality.

But now, at 12, Sunnie is also angry and sad.

Life was never going to be easy for Sunnie. Sunnie’s mom had her as a teen. Sunny’s father has not been a consistent presence, Thompson said.

Sunnie’s story of being kicked out of Timberlake was largely covered in the media when it first happened in 2014. Headlines screamed outrage. Sunnie was another victim of homophobia, another viral story here today and gone tomorrow.

What wasn’t covered is what happened next. Sunnie didn’t want to leave Timberlake. From her point of view, it was a place where she was loved and accepted by her friends.

At her new public school, she was teased. The other students would call her “it” and “gay.” Sunnie made one friend ― he used to come over on weekends, and they would play games, Thompson recalled. Then, suddenly, the boy’s father stopped letting him come over. The father said Sunnie needed to “find out her gender” before they could hang out again.

Things didn’t get better. First, Sunnie faked being sick so often that truancy became a problem.

Sunnie didn’t talk to HuffPost for this article for reasons that HuffPost is not reporting to protect the privacy of a minor.

But Thompson wants Sunnie’s story to be heard.

“Being so young, she really doesn’t know how she feels. She doesn’t know what she wants to be. Or who she wants to be,” Thompson said as her eyes welled with tears, reliving the trauma Sunnie experienced. 

Sunnie still doesn’t talk about feelings she may or may not be having. She’s on the verge of puberty. But Thompson worries about what will happen next.

At the time that Sunnie was kicked out of school, lawyers for Timberlake Christian Schools told the media: “Parents and guardians send their children to the School because of our Christian beliefs and standards. We have a duty to create an environment that is supportive of these Christian values.”

HuffPost reached out to the school and asked if they had anything further to add about Sunnie’s situation, years later. They said they did not.

The school’s anti-LGBTQ policy remains in place.

Punishable behaviors include, “but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school,” according to the school’s website.

Sunnie’s story is unusual because of how young she is. She had adult thoughts and projections pushed on her before she was even close to having them herself.

But a similar version of this story plays out around the country regularly.

In 2012, the same year 15,000 Indiana students used vouchers, Warren came out to his family and friends as transgender, he told HuffPost. At the end of his junior year, he informed the principal at his Catholic school that he would be returning as a boy for his senior year.

The bishop from the diocese overseeing Cathedral High School thought this was unacceptable. But instead of kicking Warren out, or telling him not to come back, administrators ignored the way he chose to identify, Warren said.

Teachers were told that if they called Warren by his chosen name, they would face reprisal. Those with whom Warren was close, who wanted to respect his new identity, were afraid to buck the diocese, he said. Some found workarounds by calling him by his last name or initials.

Warren was deeply involved in the school marching band as well as the school’s plays. During the marching band performances, they would announce the performers. Warren asked announcers to leave his name out, since he knew only his “dead name” would be announced. He asked not to be listed in the programs for the school plays.  

“I was pretty depressed a lot of the  time. I had horrible social anxiety,” said Warren, who’s withholding his last name because his college peers are not aware of his transition.

Even after Warren got his name changed legally that school year, the school refused to accept it. They sent off his high school transcripts to colleges with the wrong name, compelling Warren to explain the confusion to admissions offices, thereby being forced to out himself.

A representative of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said that it opens its doors to “all who are committed to a quality Catholic education, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, socio-economics, religion, learning differences, etc. Our admissions policies and practices at each local site conform to this approach.” The high school did not respond to requests for comment on the situation.

The diocese does, however, have a policy against employing staff members in same-sex unions, a representative told HuffPost during data collection.

For Warren and Sunnie, other kids at their private schools were not the problem. They were supportive.

It was the adults.

Thompson only hopes the adults at Timberlake learn to treat children with kindness and empathy.

“God wants you to love everybody,” she said. “Especially his children. He loves his children.”

Thompson is attending regular counseling sessions to educate herself on how to be the best parent she can be to her great-granddaughter. 

Course, now I’m 74 years old, so I don’t know that I’m going to be around here 10 years, when she’ll be 22 years old. I hope to God that he will let me stay here until she is grown. But I hope that she will make something of herself. Be somebody, and be proud of who she is.” 

Data and graphics by Alissa Scheller.

If you have experienced discrimination in schools, email rebecca.klein@huffpost.com.

This is the third story in a HuffPost investigation on the policies and curriculum of schools that participate in private school choice programs. The first story, looking at the curriculum used in evangelical Christian schools, is here. The second story, dealing with schools with strong ties to Scientology, is here

'The Shape of Water': A Fairy Tale for Queers and Other Outsiders

Guillermo Del Toro’s newest otherworldly adventure, The Shape of Water, finds love in a seemingly hopeless place — set against the height of the Cold War, just weeks before John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Amid a time rife with fear, racism, and homophobia, it unearths an unexpected love story from the most unlikely of protagonists.

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) sticks to a strict daily routine: An alarm clock wakes her, a hard-boiled egg for breakfast, a timed masturbation session in the bath, a shoeshine, a tedious housekeeping night shift at a government research facility, a good day’s sleep, rinse and repeat. Elisa, who is mute, spends her free time listening to the gossip of her coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) or watching escapist TV with Giles (Richard Jenkins), her closeted next-door neighbor who prefers the fantasy of television over the brutality of reality. Although both talk at her more than to her, Elisa seems accustomed to her specific kind of loneliness.

Elisa’s routine is shaken up when she’s assigned to clean the room of “the most sensitive asset ever to be housed in this facility.” Plucked from a South American river where the locals believed him to be a god, a monstrously beautiful amphibious creature (Doug Jones) is held captive in the building by the crude Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon).

Locked in her own cage of sorts, Elisa feels an instant connection to the imprisoned not-quite-merman. Neither can physically speak, so they learn to communicate through gestures, shared meals, and an affinity for romantic jazz records. Despite their isolation, they find solace in each other’s company.

A sense of longing flows through the film like a current. Giles has a crush on the bartender at a pie shop and regularly eats the wrong order just for a chance of conversation. Zelda senses the distance growing between her and her husband, but her limitations in the world as a black woman are ever so present. All three characters feel trapped, but their otherness is what binds them together — and saves the creature.

It’s notable to point out that the heroes of this story aren’t straight white men. When the casually ignorant and downright abhorrent Colonel Strickland decides the creature is better off dead, Elisa steals him away — with the help of her gang of misfits — and hides him in her bathtub. The two bond more quickly than ever with their newfound freedom, and after an overnight interspecies sex session, Elisa imagines a future with the creature as she watches his body twinkle like stars in the night sky.

At the heart of the film lies the idea that we all deserve our own fairy tale, one that floods the senses. Elisa finds that in the creature. “The way he looks at me, he does not know what I lack or how I am incomplete,” she signs to Giles. “He sees me for what I am, as I am.”

The Shape of Water is an entrancing modern-day fairy tale, but more than that, a lesson to anyone who has ever felt unworthy of love. Finding beauty in our scars, in what we believe makes us inferior, is what brings us to life — quite literally, in Elisa’s case. We all deserve the freedom to be who we are, flaws and all, and be loved for it.

[embedded content]

Study: Straight Women/Gay Men Thirst for Wealthy, White, Worked-Out

TubeCrush

Submissions to TubeCrush.net

November 21 2017 4:50 PM EST

A new study suggests that even in an epicenter of diversity like London, tastes in men are curiously conforming.

The paper — authored by researchers Adrienne Evans and Sarah Riley at the University of Coverntry in the Feminist Media Studies journal — analyzed submissions to TubeCrush.net, a website where straight women and gay men upload covert snaps of men they found attractive on the London Underground.

The analysis showed trends in the submissions that received the highest ratings and engagement from visitors. In terms of clothing, the most remarked-upon men wore either markers of wealth, like a suit or an expensive watch, or gym gear. They also tended to be in peak physical fitness, with muscled arms or legs. They also tended to be white.

“We suggest that in TubeCrush, value is directed onto the bodies of particular men, creating a visual economy of post-feminist masculinity of whiteness, physical strength, and economic wealth,” the study noted in its abstract. “This celebration of masculine capital is achieved through humor and the knowing wink, but the outcome is a reaffirmation of urban hegemonic masculinity.”

TubeCrush was founded in 2011 by accountant Steve Motion, who sought to “pay ‘Homage to the Hommes’ on our infamous transportation infrastructure.” It has built a large social media following, with around 11,000 fans on Facebook and 10,000 on Twitter.

The captions also focused on masculine physical features and high-end apparel.

In an interview with Business Insider, Evans called the behavior of commenters “ahistorical,” because it shifts the role of the objectified party from women to men.

“It’s transformative, but also at the same time it shows we’re still very much fitting into the same boxes and conventions when it comes to beauty and attraction,” Evans said.

Reading the Far Right: Blaming the Sexual Revolution for Weinstein

With sexual harassment, assault, and rape in the headlines daily due to allegations about film mogul Harvey Weinstein, some commentators in the far-right media are longing for a highly moral and largely mythical past.

They’re blaming the sexual revolution, loss of religious faith, and even, to some degree, feminism for opening the door to misdeeds like those Weinstein is accused of committing — when, in truth, sexual abuse has been happening since time immemorial in all cultures, and societal policing of consensual sexual relationships was oppressive and fraught with hypocrisy.

That’s one of our major takeaways from our recent reading of the far right, which we do so you don’t have to. Also, we’re still seeing a lot of crazy theories about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, plus praise for the Trump administration’s latest repressive actions.

Bill Murchison, a Townhall contributor who wrote a few weeks ago there was no campus sexual assault crisis when traditional morality ruled, dealt with the Weinstein allegations last week.

“The movie industry was never a monastery, but its better days went on before the moral crumbling of 40 to 50 years ago,” he wrote. “In other words, there used to be rules — sociocultural rules. There were things you did out of feelings of obligation and duty; for the same reason, there were things you didn’t do.”

He allowed that during Hollywood’s classic era, “there weren’t many things that the likes of Errol Flynn and any number of studio moguls wouldn’t essay for personal gratification,” but they “toiled within a larger cultural understanding that had effects of restraint.”

“The rules were protective in nature,” he continued. “A woman wasn’t a target; she was a woman. You had to show a little respect. Even if you didn’t show such respect, you were supposed to.”

Oh, please. This set of rules, which was still having some effect when yours truly was coming of age in the 1970s, held that women lost their respectability for merely having consensual sex outside the bounds of marriage. There was much talk of men losing their respect for any woman who joined them in bed without being safely wed; never mind that the women were doing the same thing as the men, and supposedly weren’t losing respect for the guys. And same-sex relationships? Sick! Perverted! Illegal!

Also, before the latest phase of feminism got going, sexual harassment was often excused as “boys will be boys,” and assault as “she must have led him on.” Unfortunately, that sometimes still happens. And not that women can’t be perpetrators of sexual abuse and men can’t be victims — but of course, traditional gender expectations made it even harder to report cases involving female abusers or male victims and have them taken seriously.

David French of the National Review was likewise on the “good old days” bandwagon in discussing Weinstein. We don’t often feature that conservative publication here because it’s more mainstream than the likes of Breitbart or World Net Daily, but French’s column, calling for a return to the “Christian sexual ethic,” mirrors the things being said in extreme-right outlets.

He blamed sexual abuse scandals on the “ethic of the sexual revolutionary,” which is that “Except in the most extreme circumstances (such as incest), consenting adults define their own moral norms.” Uh, the whole problem is that abuse, by definition, is something that happens without the abused party’s consent.

“Consent is determined by the request,” French continued, “and in a completely sexualized culture, the request can come at any time, anywhere, and from any person you encounter — regardless of the power imbalance or the propriety of the location.” He apparently thinks it’s too much to ask that people consider factors like power imbalance and propriety before making the request. And no one is exactly saying that people like Weinstein, former Amazon Studios chief Roy Price, and, yes, Donald Trump simply “requested” sex.

Michael Brown, who’s carried on several far-right sites, used the recent scandals to defend Mike Pence’s practice of never dining alone with a woman other than his wife. “Vice President Pence, being aware of his humanity, knows all too well how easy it is to fall,” Brown wrote in a World Net Daily column.

He went on to make the argument that men are essentially uncontrollable sexual beasts (although any time a feminist says something resembling that, she’s accused of hating men). “It’s true that most men are not sexual predators,” he wrote. “But I’m pretty sure that if the secret thoughts of most men could be revealed, they wouldn’t be all that wholesome. And in a sexually charged culture like ours today, where women are expected to wear suggestive and skimpy attire (and some love to do so), where seductive images greet you on countless websites, where your junk folder is filled with invitations to chat rooms, where prostitution and stripping are glorified, where 8-year-olds access porn on their cell phones, we need to be all the more vigilant.” Yes, blame those women for skimpy clothing! Blame the porn! Blame anyone but the abusers!

Brown did admit that sexual abuse is “as old as the human race,” which is more than John Nolte did in a Breitbart column that ran before the Weinstein scandal broke, being occasioned instead by the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

“By taking pornography out of the backroom and mainstreaming it into urban chic, Hefner forever altered our view of women,” Nolte wrote. “Before Hefner, mainstream American culture idolized and idealized women, placed them on pedestals as goddesses, never went beyond presenting them as the precious objects of our dreams.”

Again: Oh, please. Women have been subject to sexual abuse forever (and some men have been as well). This reporter has no love for Hefner — his version of sexual freedom was one in which men still held the advantage — but although he engaged in the sexual exploitation of women, he certainly didn’t invent it. Plus, the pedestal wasn’t exactly an empowering place to be, and it was ridiculously easy to fall off of. (See the earlier passage on “respect.”)

And back at WND, in the wake of Weinstein, Jesse Lee Peterson worried that “the left is politicizing and weaponizing this issue to attack all men.” Really. “Leftists hate the order of God (God in Christ, Christ in man, man over women and women over children), and they will not rest until it’s turned upside-down. … Feminists and LGBT activists are attacking and degrading anything that is good, tough and independent,” he continued.

The Boy Scouts of America also came in for some of Peterson’s wrath for the recent decision to admit girls to some programs. “This is not about helping girls or making them ‘stronger’ — it’s about weakening and destroying masculinity,” he contended.

Some others on the right blamed Hollywood liberalism for sexual abuse or tarred all liberals as corrupt. “We all know that Hollywood is a sewer; Weinstein is just the latest sewer rat to be nailed,” WND contributor Brent Smith wrote. “But, as I said — it’s not just Hollywood. Hollywood is a mere subset. For the left, immoral and amoral behavior is common. Harvey is a just another product of the system — the progressive leftist system.”

And at Breitbart, the reliably inflammatory James Delingpole called out the left for hypocrisy, although that’s certainly not lacking on the right either. “You could point out, correctly, that there are plenty of examples of prominent conservatives who have behaved badly too,” he wrote. “But here’s the difference: conservatives are not in the business of trying to appease their consciences by creating a year zero and remaking the world according to a warped ‘progressive’ philosophy which seeks to deny human nature.” Not that the right ever tries to deny human nature…

The recent tragedy in Las Vegas is still much in the news, and some far-right commentators are still spreading fact-challenged conspiracy theories about it. A certain Pastor David Whitney wrote on BarbWire that shooter Stephen Paddock, who committed suicide after killing more than 50 people and wounding hundreds in Vegas, had ties to the Antifa movement, a loosely organized network of antifascist groups — but there’s no evidence to that effect, reports FactCheck.org.

Whitney also claimed that “leftists” including Michael Moore and the moderate centrist Al Gore had predicted a violent revolution would come to America in October of this year, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. No truth to that either.

Alex Jones of Infowars has kept on promoting “irresponsible — and often contradictory — conspiracy theories” about the mass shooting, notes watchdog group Media Matters. He has variously claimed that Paddock was “a left-wing extremist who attended anti-Trump rallies, a patsy, ‘an Islamist,’ and a spy who ‘got set up and double crossed,’” the group reports. And he has linked various people and groups to the attack, including “ISIS, supporters of the Bolshevik Revolution, ‘deep state Democrats,’ former Vice President Al Gore, former high-level CIA officials, ‘the shadow government,’ antifa, globalists, the Democratic Party, the owners of the Mandalay Bay Resort, and supporters of restrictions on guns,” according to Media Matters. It sounds like he’s been reading Whitney, or Whitney’s been listening to him. That’s how these things gain traction.

Also at BarbWire, a minister named John Barber (no relation to site founder Matt Barber) defended Pat Robertson’s comments blaming the shooting on “disrespect for authority,” including “profound disrespect of our president,” and lack of a “vision of God.” “Now, I am not a fan of Pat Robertson,” Barber wrote. “However, I understand his point. And there is a great deal of Scripture in support of his point. … I don’t find Robertson’s musings out of line with the historic tradition that has wrestled with the whole of God’s Word.”

And Jeffrey Lord, the conservative commentator who got kicked off CNN for making a Nazi salute, went on Sean Hannity’s syndicated radio show to talk about the Vegas attack and blamed it on … legalized abortion. “How many millions of babies have lost their lives here because of a ‘right to choice’ that was written by the Supreme Court out of thin air?” Lord said. “If we have a culture that disrespects human life and teaches people to have disrespect for human life, how else are we going to wind up than we did with this guy in Las Vegas who had no respect for human life?” (Thanks to Media Matters for originally spotting this.)

Meanwhile, far-right activists and media are thrilled with the Department of Health and Human Services’ new rule offering virtually any nonprofit or for-profit employer an exemption (previously available only to a narrow group) from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for contraceptive coverage, saying it’s about “life” and conscience rather than putting up barriers to vital health care. There might be room for a discussion about whether it’s appropriate to have a co-pay for contraceptives, except some on the right make it clear they just hate contraception altogether — and they contend that it’s really abortion.

“It was an absolute abomination for both people of faith and of no faith when President Barack Obama’s administration ordered that institutions, service organizations and businesses must pay for drugs that induce abortions and that chemically prevent conception,” wrote Rebecca Hagelin on Townhall.

Well, actually, they don’t induce abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health. “The campaign to conflate contraception with abortion is based on the assertion that certain methods of contraception actually end — rather than prevent — pregnancy,” reads a paper the institute published in 2014. “That assertion, however, contradicts what science says about how pregnancies are established and how contraceptives work.” Intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives (the latter popularly known as the “morning-after pill,” a drug given after an incident of unprotected intercourse) are usually in the cross hairs of the right, but “none have been shown to disrupt an existing pregnancy — meaning that none can accurately be called an abortifacient,” according to the institute. They either prevent ovulation, fertilization, or, rarely, implantation of a fertilized egg — but a majority of fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant, so pregnancy is defined as beginning after implantation.

To anti-abortion (and anticontraception) absolutists like Townhall contributor Terry Jeffrey, though, these drugs and devices extinguish the lives of “newly conceived human beings.” He called on the Trump administration to lift the contraceptive mandate altogether, as insurance subsidies for low-income people buying plans under the ACA “will still force taxpayers, regardless of their own moral or religious beliefs, to underwrite this coverage for others.” Trump’s now rescinding the subsidies, but Jeffrey will undoubtedly find another argument against the coverage.

There was a curious dearth of commentary on far-right media about the guidance Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, issued the same day as the HHS rule, allowing business owners and even federal employees a broad license to discriminate against those who offend their religious beliefs, such as by being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Many right-wing groups, however, issued press releases praising the action.

And the few commentaries we did find were over the moon, such as Arthur Schaper on BarbWire lauding both the so-called religious freedom guidance and the contraceptive exemption. “Instead of going along with these corrupt, perverse LGBT and Abortion lobbies, President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have taken a stand for life and liberty,” he wrote.

And Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council (which recently hosted Trump at its Values Voter Summit), gave an exclusive interview to Breitbart saying Trump had kept “the most important promise that he made” with those two actions. Oh, we can hardly wait to see what he does next.

That’s all for now — we’ll be back soon with more information gleaned from reading the far right so you don’t have to.

Claim by Log Cabin Repubs That Ending Iran Deal Will Aid LGBTs Is Bogus

Leaders of the Log Cabin Republicans say Donald Trump’s threat to walk away from the Iran nuclear treaty and renegotiate it will open the door for a deal that will improve the lives of LGBT Iranians — but some other groups beg to differ.

Trump announced Friday that he will not recertify the deal, which limits Iran’s capacity to develop nuclear energy, as other nations fear this could lead to development of nuclear weapons, and lifts economic sanctions against Iran. It was negotiated between Iran and six other nations in 2015, when Barack Obama was president, and Congress requires the president to recertify it every 90 days. Trump and other Republicans have frequently said it is insufficient, and he has claimed Iran is not in compliance with the deal’s terms — something that European Union leaders say is inaccurate (several E.U. nations were part of the deal). Congress now has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions; if the U.S. were to do so, it would actually be in violation of the deal, the BBC reports.

While the dispute continues, Log Cabin president Gregory T. Angele issued this statement of praise for Trump’s action:

As the only LGBT organization to actively, repeatedly, and consistently maintain that the Iran Deal had negative consequences for the LGBT community since its inception, President Trump’s decision today is one welcomed by Log Cabin Republicans. It is no secret that the Iranian regime kills gay men — and men simply suspected of being gay — and cloaks the abominable practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in the guise of forced gender reassignment surgery. President Trump’s statement today maintains the United States interest in the Iran Deal while opening the door for renegotiation that ultimately could lead to a safer world and a better life for the LGBT community in Iran.

Log Cabin’s view is a minority one, however. While acknowledging that LGBT Iranians indeed face many horrors, some human rights groups said pulling out of the nuclear deal is not the way to improve the situation and that the Trump administration, given its anti-LGBT actions domestically, is unlikely to promote LGBT rights abroad.

“While President Trump may be trying to blow up the Iran deal, there’s no excuse for members of the Republican Party to make up motivations that instrumentalize LGBT rights in Iran in order to justify a dubious political decision,” Tara Sepehri Far, researcher at Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, told The Advocate via email. “Claims that walking away from this agreement would create an opening to improve gay rights — or any rights — is in bad-faith and possibly even counterproductive.”

Human Rights Campaign Global director Ty Cobb added, “Donald Trump and Mike Pence have taken a number of steps to harm the LGBTQ community. Whether it’s the Justice Department’s newly announced license to discriminate against LGBTQ people or an unpatriotic attack on transgender service members, this administration has truly put into practice the politics of hate. Additionally, neither Trump nor Pence have directly spoken out against the attacks against LGBTQ people in Chechnya or more recent attacks in Azerbaijan, Egypt, and Indonesia. We need real, vocal leadership from this administration on human rights. Considering their anti-LGBTQ agenda and their failure to lead on human rights, it’s naive to believe this administration has any intent to improve the lives of LGBTQ Iranians.”

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, tweeted today that Trump is telling “whoppers” about the deal, the BBC reports. He also called Trump a “brute” and said that if the U.S. pulls out of the deal, Iran would shred it.

At Values Voter Summit, Trump Boasts of Homophobic, Sexist Victories

Donald Trump told his religious right supporters what they wanted to hear today at the Values Voter Summit — that he’s protecting religious freedom and bringing Judeo-Christian values back to America.

The first sitting president to address the gathering, he took the stage this morning at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., to applause and chants of “USA!” and then praised Tony Perkins, president of the event’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, as a “tremendous guy.” (The far-right, anti-LGBT organization is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

Trump noted the frequent invocations of God by the nation’s founders, then said, “How times have changed. But now they’re changing back again.”

He touted the “religious freedom” guidance issued by his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, last week, which gives federal employees and contractors a wide berth to claim religious objections to their duties, constituting a broad license to discriminate against LGBT people and others who might offend their religious sensibilities.

He boasted of reinstating the policy of denying U.S. funds to any overseas family planning organization that so much as mentions abortion and of broadening exceptions to the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act. (His latest action concerning the ACA is announcing an end to subsidies that help low-income Americans buy health insurance, yet he told the gathering, “We’re gonna have great health care in our country.”)

He spoke proudly of the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, a man “in the mold of the late, great Antonin Scalia.” And he noted that with the holiday season approaching, “We’re saying Merry Christmas again,” as if anyone had been prevented from saying that.

He said he hoped that Congress would pass his proposed tax cuts “as a Christmas gift to hardworking families,” although the cuts would overwhelmingly benefit the most wealthy. He bragged of his administration’s response to natural disasters, ignoring that the response to hurricane destruction in Puerto Rico is widely seen as inadequate and that relief workers treated themselves to a “spa day” there.

He hit other expected points — about respecting the flag, our history, law enforcement, and military members (not mentioning, of course, that he is drumming transgender people out of the military), and that in foreign policy, he is standing up to “radical Islamic terrorism” and bad actors around the world.

“Above all else, we know this,” he said. “In America we don’t worship government. We worship God. Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.”

He also said, “When America is unified, no force on earth can break us apart” — but in reality, his presidency has been extremely divisive.

Other speakers this morning included Kellyanne Conway, his former campaign manager who has continued as an adviser, who was introduced as “the woman who saved the world” by helping prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Among the others scheduled to speak at the conference, which continues through Sunday, include former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka; religious right activist brothers David and Jason Benham; former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; current members of Congress Mark Meadows, Mark Walker, Chris Smith, and Vicky Hartzler; Roy Moore, the anti-LGBT, anti-abortion former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from the state; Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House; Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart and a former Trump campaign chairman and White House adviser; Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson; longtime religious right leader Gary Bauer; Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel; Fox News host Laura Ingraham; Fox News contributor Todd Starnes; Edwin Meese, U.S. attorney general in the Reagan administration; and former Army officer Oliver North, known for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s.

Trump’s full speech is below.

[embedded content]

Religious Right Overjoyed by 'License to Discriminate'

The Trump administration’s Friday issuance of “religious freedom” guidance and rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate appalled progressives and many other Americans — but members of the religious right are over the moon.

The “religious freedom” guidance, issued by the Department of Justice, assures federal grantees and contractors, and employees of federal agencies, that they don’t have to serve clients who pose a conflict with their religious beliefs — for instance, by being LGBT, a single parent, or a believer in a different religion. It also allows faith-based organizations to discriminate in employment without losing federal contracts or grants, and shapes the stance the federal government will take in court cases regarding discrimination.

The new Health and Human Services rules allow virtually any nonprofit or for-profit employer to seek an exemption from the ACA contraceptive mandate, which required employers to provide contraceptive coverage in group insurance plans at no cost to the employee. Some faiths oppose all forms of “artificial” contraception, while others believe certain contraceptives, such as the birth control pill, result in early abortions, and refer to the pill as an “abortion pill.” The Obama administration allowed employers with an actual religious affiliation to have their insurers fund the coverage instead of the employer, but that accommodation was not satisfactory to some.

A sampling of religious right reactions to Friday’s actions:

“This morning … another concrete step was taken toward undoing the anti-faith policies of the Obama administration. While the Obama administration quarantined religious beliefs as if they are a plague — the Trump administration is restoring our First Freedom to where it’s belonged since the founding of our country.” — Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council

“We commend President Trump for instructing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to send a strong message to the rest of America that religious freedom must be protected. The President has reversed the Obama-era policies and committed to protecting and promoting the religious freedom upon which this nation was founded. The Department of Justice must now vigorously enforce all Americans’ civil right of free exercise of religious liberty. This is an extremely positive step in the right direction.” — Mat Staver, founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel

“The American Family Association is heartened to see strong action taken on two issues that have long troubled those with closely held religious beliefs. No one should be forced to either pay for a service or perform a service that violates their faith. AFA thanks President Trump for his continued commitment to religious freedom, and for the real and tangible ways his administration is creating policies to protect Americans’ constitutionally granted liberties.” —Tim Wildmon, president, American Family Association

“The Obama administration’s repeated violations of conscience were deeply contrary to the core of our nation, which was built on the foundation of respect for the individual freedoms of the people and deeply held religious beliefs. We thank President Trump for fulfilling a core promise to voters of faith and conscience who elected him.” — Marjorie Dannenfelser, president, Susan B. Anthony List

“The story should be that this is a president who is truly committed to liberty. He is committed to America, and he is working to keep his word to the American people. That is incredibly honorable and noble.” — Penny Nance, president and CEO, Concerned Women for America

“All Americans should have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their faith without fear of government punishment. The guidance that the Trump administration issued today helps protect that First Amendment freedom. As CEO of the largest religious freedom legal organization in the world, I commend the president for taking another step to honor his campaign promise to make religious liberty his ‘first priority’ by directing the Department of Justice to issue this guidance, which simply directs the federal government to adhere to its legal and constitutional obligation to respect existing religious freedom protections.” — Michael Farris, president, CEO, and general counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom

“Americans United for Life applauds the actions of the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the right of conscientious employers and employees not to participate in or provide abortion-causing drugs is protected in law. Millions of Americans want no part of an insurance system that subsidizes the destruction of innocent human life, and HHS’s new interim regulation respects that principled stand.” — Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO, Americans United for Life

Democrats Like Clinton And Sanders, But Don’t Want Either To Seek Presidency Again

Most Democrats still like both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but few want to see either run for president again, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

The poll comes as both of the former Democratic presidential candidates have garnered headlines: Clinton for the promotion of her campaign book, What Happened, and Sanders for his most recent effort to introduce single-payer health insurance.

Seventy-one percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents hold a favorable view of Clinton, with 24 percent viewing her negatively. Sanders holds a similar favorability rating, with 73 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners rating him positively, and slightly lower unfavorables, with 18 percent rating him negatively. (Among just Democrats, Clinton’s favorability rating is 76 percent, with Sanders at 71 percent.)

Democrats and Democratic leaners say by a 10-point margin, 49 percent to 39 percent, that Clinton was not the party’s best option for a nominee last year. Fourteen percent say she was mostly to blame for Trump’s victory, with 37 percent calling her somewhat at fault, 24 percent saying that she’s not very much at fault, and 16 percent saying that she’s not to blame at all.

Looking forward, just 20 percent want to see Clinton run for president again, but 47 percent say they’d like to see her remain active in politics in other ways, while 23 percent want her to retire. Thirty percent want to see Sanders take another stab at the presidency, with 46 percent preferring him to engage in other facets of politics, and 12 percent wishing he would retire.

Both the “Clinton wing” and “Sanders wing” of the party ― defined as those who view one of those politicians positively, but the other negatively ― are relatively small. A 54 percent majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view both Clinton and Sanders favorably, according to the poll. Sixteen percent like Sanders but not Clinton, while 12 percent like Clinton, but not Sanders. Another 6 percent hold a negative view of both.

Americans as a whole give Clinton a negative rating, with 52 percent viewing her unfavorably to the 36 percent who rate her favorably. Sanders is seen more positively, with 42 percent of the American public viewing him favorably, and just 37 percent unfavorably.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

MORE OF THE LATEST POLLING NEWS:

POLLS PAINT A MIXED PICTURE OF VIRGINIA’S GUBERNATORIAL RACE: Four new polls of this year’s upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election show differing views of the race between Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Democratic lieutenant governor, and Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, though all find Northam tied or ahead.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday gives Northam a 10-point lead, while Suffolk University and Mason-Dixon show the race as effectively a dead heat, with Northam even with Gillespie or up by 1, respectively. In between, the University of Mary Washington gives Northam a modest 5-point edge. With the exception of Quinnipiac, Northam’s percentage has remained relatively consistent at between 42 and 44 percent in recent polls, while Gillespie’s numbers have varied more significantly.

NOT ALL TRUMP VOTERS OPPOSE DACA ― BUT HIS STAUNCHEST FANS MOSTLY DO: HuffPost: “President Donald Trump’s supporters are far from united in opposing the goals of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. But those with anti-immigration views are the ones who feel most strongly about the issue. More than likely, they’re also among the core backers who helped propel him to victory over his more mainstream Republican rivals. … Trump voters who currently ‘strongly approve’ of the president’s job performance oppose DACA by a 33-point margin. Those who only ‘somewhat approve’ of the president, by contrast, are 7 points likelier to support the program than they are to oppose it. … Hard-line views on immigration were among the touchstones differentiating Trump’s primary supporters from the Republicans who fell in line only after he became the party’s official standard-bearer.” [HuffPost]

PLUS ÇA CHANGE, PARTISANSHIP EDITION: Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto, on a review of a CBS panel study tracking the partisan affiliation of thousands of Americans: “Party attachments have remained very stable in 2017, with neither Republicans nor Democrats able to draw many independents over to their side so far. Democrats aren’t becoming Republicans en masse, nor are Republicans becoming Democrats, and the few who have vacillated between parties aren’t as likely to vote in the first place ― which sheds light on why today’s politics often seems dominated by partisans. … Overall, 91 percent of respondents identified with the same party in their most recent interview as they did the first time we talked to them this winter.”  [CBS]

WHAT THE POLLING AVERAGES SAY AS OF TUESDAY AFTERNOON:

Trump job approval among all Americans: 40% approve, 54% disapprove

Trump job approval among Democrats: 10% approve, 86% disapprove

Trump job approval among Republicans: 82% approve, 16% disapprove

Trump job approval among independents: 35% approve, 57% disapprove

Generic House: 41% Democratic candidate, 34% Republican candidate

Obamacare favorability: 47% favor, 42% oppose

‘OUTLIERS’ – Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-A slim majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s handling of the economy. [Gallup]

-Polls find relatively positive remarks for Trump’s hurricane response. [SurveyMonkey, Marist]

-Most people don’t understand the procedure for the president to order a nuclear strike. [Ipsos]

-GOP voters still want to see Obamacare repealed. [Politico]

-California Democrats want to see limits on white nationalist demonstrations. [SacBee]

-Sarah Ruiz-Grossman reports on polling about white supremacy. [HuffPost, data via Sabato’s Crystal Ball]

-Michael Tesler finds evidence that Jemele Hill’s comments represent the mainstream opinion. [HuffPost]

-A plurality of Americans think Trump’s remarks have made racist comments more acceptable in the U.S. [PBS]

-Jacob Bogage and Emily Guskin look at Americans’ mixed attitudes toward the dangers of playing football. [WashPost]

-Danielle Kurtzleben rounds up public opinion polling on DACA. [NPR]

-Emily Badger writes on misconceptions about the wealth gap between black and white Americans. [NYT]

-David Byler reviews polls suggesting that Trump’s approval could be a midterm ceiling for the GOP. [RCP]

-Ron Brownstein examines the possible cracks in Trump’s foundation of support. [CNN]

-Pew Research dives into the differences between consistent voters, “drop-off” voters and nonvoters. [Pew]

-G. Elliott Morris asks how much Democrats can rely on young voters. [NYT]

-John B. Judis issues a mea culpa for arguing demography meant destiny for Democrats. [TNR]

-Adam Marcus reports on a health specialist demanding payment for the use of his questionnaire. [Science]

Find the latest polling stories, updates and charts here. Want to get stories like this in your inbox? Sign up here.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Sept. 13-14 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

Coming Out Is Good Business

It’s safe to say that LGBT employees face a roulette wheel of challenges when coming out at work. These days, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, the LGBT community is “subjected to unprecedented attacks — from state lawmakers plotting to undermine our historic gains, to tragic, unimaginable experiences of violence, to those who pledged to roll back our rights from the highest of offices in the land.” More than half of us nationwide hide who we are in the workplace, and 35 percent feel compelled to lie about our personal lives, despite the fact that 98 percent of Fortune 500 companies provide protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It’s clear that LGBT employees still fear some form of workplace retaliation, and that problem falls on managers. 

In Samuel A. Culbert’s new book, Good People, Bad Managers, the award-winning author, researcher, and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Anderson School of Management, takes a closer look at our work culture that turns otherwise good people into bad managers. The Advocate recently sat down with Culbert to talk about why it matters to come out at work, what we can learn from Tim Cook and Donald Trump, and the corrupt management practices that lead people with good intentions to act badly and inflict negativity on the people they’re mandated to help.

The Advocate: What advice can you give to closeted employees?
Samuel A. Culbert: I think the greatest cultural transformation of my life has been the advances made by the LGBTQ community. Everyone eventually figures out that they have gay family members, work associates, and friends, and it takes too much energy and lack of human compassion to not accept that transformation. People in the closet start out in a tough spot because we’re really talking about self-confidence. We’re also talking about workplace prejudice. There are hidden persuaders that prevent people in the workplace from being their best selves. The LGBTQ community knows about these all too well and are victimized by them. These workplace force fields cause people to act inauthentic and go along with the pretense that stems from incompetence.

Authenticity is the most powerful mechanism anyone has in the workplace for accomplishing, getting cooperation, and earning trust. It’s very hard to do a person damage when they’re out in the open and not hiding anything. That takes a tremendous amount of self-acceptance, and ultimately it’s about feeling good about yourself.

A trusting work relationship is one of the greatest management tools. All work environments are politicized. and the people that seem to be the big winners are not necessarily winning — it just appears that way. The other guys, who you might think are acting straight, are also subjected to forces that lead them to act pretentious and inauthentic. The pretense required to manage, to survive, and to cope with insecurity makes authenticity difficult and therefore causes others to distrust them. I’m not saying it’s easy to come out at work, and as I mention in the book, it took Apple CEO Tim Cook 13 years with the company (three of them as CEO).

Why did Tim Cook’s coming-out impress you?
It’s not just about him being gay. It was also about a force for accepting all forms of diversity. LGBTQ people are more than their sexualities, and they are different in every way. Tim Cook’s coming-out symbolized the acceptance of diversity, and it made it much easier, at least at Apple, for people of any identity to be clear in announcing who they are and demonstrating for other people that their prejudices are not grounded in reality. Authenticity is always the best front and defense, but it’s not always the safest route to take.

There’s a Donald Trump quote in your book: “I just keep pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” Why is this approach bad management?
Management is other-directed, and Trump’s quote is brute-force self-directed. What words do people associate with Donald Trump? “You’re fired.” He made a career out of saying that. That’s not management, that’s something else. Good management is finding out what’s on employees’ minds, learning about their commitments and identities, and bringing out their unique goals and how to reach them. One thing I wanted to do with my book is to show how managers self-victimize. They’re so busy dealing with their problems, which are the consequences of managers themselves trying to cope and survive, that they in turn block their own effectiveness.

Why do some employees think there’s a risk to being authentic in the workplace?
I can’t generalize like that. However, if management is not committed to your success, if they’re so self-involved in their own success, authenticity becomes a risky proposition. All situations are political and people want you to do what they want you to do. Unless you have a relationship that allows you to say what the other person doesn’t want to hear, you’re always kissing up and being someone’s toad. In some ways it goes back to our whole socialization process that’s based on our fear of power from people who are bigger, stronger, and with more resources at their disposal. That’s part of the baggage people bring to work. They’ve already been told that there are times when they must hold their tongues and not be themselves. Somewhere in there you elect to go to war against those forces or you become more fearful of them.

Is that why people feel that their hands are tied when it comes to changing workplace culture?
You have to use ”I-speak” and talk to people without confronting and challenging them. All interactions involve two people and three realities: It’s your reality, my reality, and the reality that we agree to talk about as if it’s true. Managers should step back from the limelight and put their own self-pursuits on hold in order to help others shine. It’s always easy to tell employees something important. The most difficult part of managing is learning how to manage better. When managers say that their door is always open, they have to realize that their invitation is hollow until they make it possible for their direct reports to speak candidly.

Why does the workplace culture of perfection inhibit workers from talking openly?
The culture of perfection assumes that everybody can be graded on any company metric. But human nature says people are imperfect. Everybody has flaws, and the genius of people is that they know how to work around them. When you believe that any employee can attend on any metric, you create a big mess. If I tell you that there’s something you do that I don’t like, do you have the capacity to stop doing what I mention? Probably not, but you do have the capacity to hide it, fake it, and always pretend.

How do you define “skilled incompetence”? 
That’s where you’re highly competent with using your defensive and self-protective habits. People who are conflict adverse are highly skilled at sidestepping conflict. I call this incompetence because in being so skilled you never learn the other stuff. We all have the same goals. We want to make ourselves as good as we can in areas that are self-gratifying. But what goes on in insecure work environments is that people stay in their comfort zones and don’t evolve themselves. We want managers with a mentality that allows people to learn and grow. That’s what every CEO and shareholder wants in a company.  They have a workforce, and their best chance at realizing corporate success is by having that workforce personally progress, learn, and become more capable at their jobs.

What skills do good managers possess?
It’s learning about other people and how they feel about themselves. Everybody has a bias in their self-preservation, but good management is not based on self-accomplishments but rather helping other people to accomplish and progress on their individualized goals. Managers need to take responsibility for the people who work for them. They must work with the psychological mind-set of the other person and find out how their employees do their work and in turn create an environment in which they can succeed. Learning about other people is not only the most effective way of managing, but it will also allow you to learn about your own preferences and why you have them. You’ll become more accepting, which will make you better equipped to deal with the imperfections of others.

Here's Why Most U.K. Gay Men Are Afraid to Hold Hands

After polling British LGBT people, the U.K. civil rights group Stonewall has found that their circumstances are worse than one would think. A fifth of queer people in the nation have experienced a hate crime motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity in the past year, and only one in five victims have reported it to authorities. 

Among the poll’s findings is that minorities, particularly LGBT Asians, experienced more hate crimes than their white counterparts, with 34 percent reporting having been a victim in the past year. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they were afraid to hold hands with their partners in public, and the figure rose among gay men, with 58 percent saying they were afraid to do so.

The advocacy group observed that LGBT people face hatred on the street and within their communities. “The research reveals that anti-LGBT abuse extends far beyond acts of hate and violence on our streets. Many LGBT people still endure poor treatment while using public services and going about their lives, whether in their local shop, gym, school or place of worship,” Stonewall noted its website.

Ten percent of respondents struggled to obtain housing, and a sixth said they have faced discrimination in restaurants. The organization recommends that police forces improve training to better deal with homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and that hate-crimes laws be reassessed so that hate crimes against LGBT people are treated the same as those against racial or religious minorities, as aggravated offenses. David Issac, chairman of the nation’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, is working to end what he sees as Britain’s “hierarchy of hate crimes,” telling the BBC, “All hate crime is abhorrent. LGBT people, like everyone else, have the right to live safely in the community.”