8 Celebrities Surprisingly Skeptical of #MeToo, Time's Up, and Sexual Harassment

Since October, when Harvey Weinstein’s dark, serial predations came were exposed in a New York Times article, #MeToo has become a necessary and overdue rallying cry, a point of connection, an outlet for survivors of harassment and abuse. Of course, all movements have detractors, and #MeToo has its predictable opponents like Donald Trump

But more surprising are those like Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, and New York Times opinion writer Bari Weissm who generally skew left and who’ve spoken critically about #MeToo, often chastising the movement for not making crystal-clear distinctions between rape and harassment while failing to realize the movement already allows for gradations in behavior. 

Here are eight of the most surprising critiques of #MeToo. 

Michael Haneke 

The Austrian director of acclaimed films like Funny Games, Amour, and The White Ribbon came out hard against #MeToo, calling it a “witch hunt” that “should be left in the Middle Ages.” While the filmmaker allowed in an interview with Kurier that any form of “rape or coercion is punishable,” he slammed the notion that accused serial predators like Kevin Spacey have lost their jobs based on the word of accusers. 

“This hysterical pre-judgment which is spreading now, I find absolutely disgusting,” Haneke said, according to Deadline. “And I don’t want to know how many of these accusations related to incidents 20 or 30 years ago are primarily statements that have little to do with sexual assault.”

Haneke, the filmmaker behind two versions of the uber-violent home invasion film Funny Games, expressed concern that #MeToo could ruin art, citing Nagisa Ôshima’s 1976 study of sexuality, In The Realm of the Senses, as a film that would not get funding in the era of outright believing survivors of harassment and abuse. 

The two-time Palme d’Or winner at Cannes blamed social and online media for making people hate men.

“Any shitstorm that even comes out on the forums of serious online news outlets after such ‘revelations’ poisons the social climate. And this makes every argument on this very important subject even more difficult,” Haneke said. “The malignancy that hits you on the internet often stifles you. This new puritanism imbued with a hatred of men that comes in the wake of the #MeToo movement worries me.”

Bill Maher

Earlier this month, Real Time host Bill Maher lashed out at “fucking fragile” millennials for the existence of #MeToo, as if survivors of other generations aren’t also fed up with sexual harassment and abuse. But it’s not that Maher doesn’t believe accusers, he just doesn’t act as though it’s a big deal, rightfully calling for equanimity when it comes to believing Donald Trump’s multiple accusers and then quipping that married men harass women in the workplace because “they have shitty sex lives.” 

In a segment with New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, a millennial he appears to agree with, Maher also spoke out about how men who have not experienced harassment are being asked to listen at the current juncture rather than share their thoughts on something of which they have no experience. He defended Matt Damon, who was skewered for speaking out and saying that distinctions need to be made between harassment and rape (as if survivors aren’t capable of walking and chewing gum). While standing up for Damon, Maher, like a 1950s-era comic, took another stab at marriage. 

“When you’re wrong even when you say the right thing, then I feel like a husband,” Maher said about his fear, not of speaking out, but for being called out for his antiquated opinions. 

Maher then likened the hard line supporters have taken #MeToo to a police state. “A police state is the safest place to live but we don’t want to do that with love,” Maher said, failing to recognize that harassment and abuse have nothing to do with love.

100 French Women 

Actress Catherine Deneuve was among 100 French women artists, academics, and business professionals who signed a letter in January that denounced #MeToo for going too far. 

While the letter, published in the French publication Le Monde, allowed that rape is, in fact, a crime, it accused #MeToo of being a threat. The signatories alleged that men’s “freedom to pester” is “indispensable to sexual freedom.” 

The letter continued to defend the right of men to harass women as if women’s freedom to live a life unbothered by men isn’t also a type of freedom. 

“Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not an offense, nor is gallantry macho aggression,” the letter read. 

The French women also slammed #MeToo for its predilection for believing survivors without allowing the accused the chance to defend themselves. They wrote that “swift justice” had claimed its own victims in forcing men to resign “when all they did wrong was touch a knee.”

The letter also insisted on separating the artist from the work even in the case of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. The letter wagged a finger at #MeToo for a movement to ban a Polanski retrospective in Paris. 

Matt Damon

Actor Matt Damon has a habit of putting in his two cents when he’d be better served to listen, so much so that the term “Damonsplaining” has sprung up in response to his predilection for weighing in on issues about which he’s no expert. On Popcorn With Peter Travers in December, Damon called #MeToo a “watershed” moment for women who feel empowered to speak out against abuse while also noting that the country is in a “culture of outrage.” Then he couldn’t help but “Damonsplain” that harassment and abuse should be viewed on a spectrum.

“There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation,” Damon said. “Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated.”

Following much criticism from people including #MeToo activists Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan, Debra Messing, and ex-girlfriend Minnie Driver, Damon apologized, admitting, “I really wished I’d listened a lot more.” 

Margaret Atwood

Of all those who’ve questioned the #MeToo movement the most surprising has been author Margaret Atwood. The writer’s most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is about a dystopian future under a fascist patriarchy under which women are reduced to the viability of their reproductive organs; the book has reemerged as one of the most important texts during the Trump years. 

In January, Atwood published an article in her native country Canada’s Globe and Mail in which she asserted that #MeToo arose out of an ineffectual legal system in which survivors of assault were not given their day in court. Atwood wrote:

“The #MeToo moment is a symptom of a broken legal system. All too frequently, women and other sexual-abuse complainants couldn’t get a fair hearing through institutions – including corporate structures – so they used a new tool: the internet. Stars fell from the skies. This has been very effective and has been seen as a massive wake-up call. But what next? The legal system can be fixed, or our society could dispose of it. Institutions, corporations, and workplaces can houseclean, or they can expect more stars to fall, and also a lot of asteroids.” 

Atwood warned of the urge to rush to judgment about the accused without due process. 

“But understandable and temporary vigilante justice can morph into a culturally solidified lynch-mob habit in which the available mode of justice is thrown out the window, and extralegal power structures are put into place and maintained,” Atwood wrote. “In times of extremes, extremists win. Their ideology becomes a religion, anyone who doesn’t puppet their views is seen as an apostate, a heretic or a traitor, and moderates in the middle are annihilated.”

Germaine Greer

Australian feminist Germaine Greer, who has a history of making anti-trans statements, has criticized not only the #MeToo movement but also women who’ve come out as having been sexually abused. 

The author of the seminal rallying cry The Female Eunuch, Greer recently slammed survivors of abuse like Woody Allen’s accuser Dylan Farrow, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.  

“It was 20 years ago, so you want him to stop making movies now? It might be a good idea because he’s probably no good anymore,” the 78-year-old glibly said about Farrow’s trauma. 

Greer’s wider response to #MeToo essentially posited that boys will be boys and that it’s incumbent upon their victims to fight back immediately. 

“I want, I’ve always wanted, to see women react immediately,” Greer said, as if that’s always an option. “I want women to react here and now. I want the woman on a train who feels a man’s hand where it shouldn’t be … to be able to say quite clearly, ‘Stop.'”

Greer attempted to qualify her remarks when discussing wealthy predators who wield a threatening power. 

“What makes it different is when the man has economic power, as Harvey Weinstein has,” Greer said. “But if you spread your legs because he said ‘Be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie,’ then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that.”

Bari Weiss

New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss appeared with Bill Maher on Real Time, with Maher deeming her a “sensible” millennial to speak on #MeToo because she showed up and agreed with him across the board. Weiss made a name for herself as a contrarian in the movement when she penned an article in January defending Aziz Ansari — who, from one woman’s account, struggles with boundaries of consent — as guilty of “not being a mind reader.” 

Weiss made a few fair points on Maher, suggesting that the hard left has gone too far in skipping due process and “innocent until proven guilty,” but she failed to acknowledge the dark history of sexually harassed and abused people not being believed. She also slammed what she perceives as a failure to make distinctions between harassment and rape, as if accusers are incapable of doing so.

“It means that Aziz Ansari is on a list next to Harvey Weinstein, and I don’t think anyone with common sense thinks that that’s reasonable,” Weiss said. 

Then Weiss laid out her criticism of her millennial peers. “Twenty-five percent think that asking someone for a drink is sexual harassment, an unsolicited kiss is rape. It’s over. Then words don’t mean anything,” she said. 

But Weiss didn’t just go after her generation. She went after those who came before her who fought for the Equal Rights Amendment. 

“I went to a college where I was taught gender is a social construct. Nature doesn’t matter at all. There’s really no difference between men and women,” Weiss said. “Those are myths. That’s a lie that the sexual revolution sold to women.” 

Liam Neeson 

Actor Liam Neeson called #MeToo “a bit of a witch hunt” on Ireland’s The Late, Late Show in January, in reference to accused men like Dustin Hoffman, who Neeson said committed only minor offenses, despite the revelation that Hoffman allegedly exposed himself to his daughter’s teenage friend years ago. 

Like most others who’ve spoken out about #MeToo, Neeson condescended to survivors of harassment to emphasize the distinction that rape and harassment are not the same thing. 

“There is a movement happening,” Neeson said, “It’s healthy and it’s across every industry; the focus is on Hollywood at the moment but it is across every industry. I’m a UNICEF ambassador and very proud to be one, and I get sent facts and figures and if you read what I have read about how female laborers are being treated on farms and ranches, it’s chilling.”

Still, Neeson expressed concern for Hoffman and A Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor, both of whom were accused of serial predation. 

“There are some famous people being suddenly accused of touching some girl’s knee or something, and then suddenly they’ve been dropped from their program,” Neeson said. 

RuPaul Opens Up To Oprah About What Drag Taught Him About Life


You’re born naked, and the rest is drag.

RuPaul wrote this oft-quoted line in his 1995 autobiography, Lettin It All Hang Out, and now the famed drag queen, entertainer and host of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is opening up to Oprah about what his decades-long experience with drag has taught him about life.

As RuPaul says in the February issue of O, The Oprah Magazine and on the latest podcast for “Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations,” drag has been a powerful teaching tool for him on a level much deeper than anything aesthetic.

“What it teaches people is that … all things are temporary,” RuPaul says. “Everything’s temporary: just clothes, some paint, powder – this body, even, is temporary.”

It’s a perspective RuPaul has held from a very young age. “I got that as a kid,” he says in the video below. “I was a young kid and I thought, ‘Is everybody getting that this is all kind of an illusion?’ And I couldn’t get anybody to corroborate with me.”

It doesn’t hide who you are. Drag actually reveals who you are.

In his pre-teen years, he found that vindication ―  via Monty Python.

“When I was about 11 years old, on PBS, I found my tribe in [the sketch comedy show] ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus.’ I thought, ‘OK, they get it,’” RuPaul says. “They’re irreverent, they’re not taking anything seriously and they’re having fun! That’s what this is all about.”

Ultimately, RuPaul says that the eye-opening nature of drag can be felt by anyone of any background, gender or orientation. “On our show, we have this thing where we have the girls put [straight] guys in drag, and what emerges is really phenomenal,” RuPaul says. “It doesn’t hide who you are. Drag actually reveals who you are.”

O, The Oprah Magazine’s February issue hits newsstands on January 16.

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India's Gay Prince Opens Palace to LGBT Outcasts

Twelve years after bravely coming out, India’s Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil continues to be an inspiration to his nation’s beleaguered LGBT community.

Gohil recently opened up his palace to vulnerable LGBTs, with plans to construct more buildings on his 15 acre grounds to house additional people, reports The Independent. Queer people in conservative India often find themselves disowned and lacking resources after coming out.

“In India, we have a family system and we are mentally conditioned to be with our parents,” Gahil, disowned by his own parents after coming out, told The Independent. “The moment you try to come out you are told you will be thrown out and society will boycott you. You become a social outcast. A lot of people are financially dependent on their parents.”

Offering up his home as a refuge means more people can live openly without fear of being disinherited and, in effect, penniless. While change is coming to India — this summer the nation’s high court opened the door to LGBT Indians’ right to privacy — the nation has a long way to go, as gay sex remains officially illegal and many gay Indians are forced into heterosexual marriages by family members.

“I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won’t be affected,” Gohil said. “They will have their own social security system. It won’t make a difference if they are disinherited.”

Oregon Appeals Court Upholds Discrimination Ruling Against Antigay Bakers

The Oregon Court of Appeals Thursday upheld a ruling that a bakery violated the state’s antidiscrimination law by refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

The court affirmed the Oregon Bureau of Labor’s ruling that Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, located in Gresham, illegally discriminated against the couple and are liable for a $135,000 fine, reports The Register-Guard of Eugene.

“The Kleins seek an exemption based on their sincere religious opposition to same-sex marriage,” Judge Chris Garrett wrote in the opinion, according to the newspaper. “But those with sincere religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities, or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption.”

The Kleins had cited their Christian beliefs in refusing to provide a cake for the 2013 wedding of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer. In the Bureau of Labor’s ruling, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian wrote that the Kleins’ action “was more than the denial of the product. … It was the epitome of being told there are places you cannot go, things you cannot do … or be.” The bureau made its finding of discrimination in 2014 and set the fine in 2015. The Kleins filed their appeal last year.

The Kleins, who have now closed their business, resisted paying the fine for several months, despite raising nearly half a million dollars through a crowdfunding campaign, but they finally delivered the money, plus interest, at the end of 2015. The money has been held in escrow during the appeal process and will continue to be, as the Kleins may appeal further, to the Oregon Supreme Court, The Register-Guard reports. They are considering this option, their attorneys said.

They are represented by the right-wing First Liberty Institute, whose president, Kelly Shackelford, issued this statement: “Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein are not entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free speech. In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs.”

The Bownan-Cryers released a statement praising the decision. “In Oregon, businesses that are open to the public are open to all,” they said. “With this ruling, the Court of Appeals has upheld the long-standing idea that discrimination has no place in America.”a

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this month in a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The commission found that Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips violated Colorado antidiscrimination law by refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, and state courts upheld the ruling. Phillips contended that providing goods for a same-sex wedding went against his religious beliefs and that forcing him to do so infringed upon his constitutional rights to religious and artistic freedom. The high court is expected to issue its decision in the summer.

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

7 Women the Golden Globes Snubbed for Best Director

The Golden Globes Best Director nominations, announced Monday, are nothing if not boring and predictable choices that fail to recognize women. While Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water has garnered solid reviews and is a fantasy piece that celebrates otherness, the others are more predictable. A few of Hollywood’s favorite men are nominated: Steven Spielberg picked up a nomination for The Post, Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk, and Ridley Scott for All the Money in the World (which was reshot with Christopher Plummer so recently it’s hard to believe many critics have seen it) while Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri‘s Martin McDonagh appears to be the dark horse of the nominees for directing a film about a woman seeking justice/revenge for her daughter’s rape and murder. 

But if the Globes wanted to reward a woman’s story or even a story interpreted through the eyes of a woman, there were plenty of female directors the Hollywood Foreign Press could have recognized. But in the year of the #MeToo movement, when Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird nabbed the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of all time and Wonder Woman captivated critics and audiences for an entire summer moviegoing season, the Globes directing nominations are sadly and stupidly shortsighted.

In a year that was loaded with excellent films from women, including documentaries like Agnes Varda’s Faces Places, Catherine Gund and Dareshi Kyi’s Chavela, and Sabaah Folayan’s Whose Streets? as well asforeign films like Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order and small films like Maggie Betts’s Novitiate, we compiled a list of women directors who could/should have been on the collective radar of Globes voters but who were ignored in a category that is disappointingly trite and male. 

Angela Robinson for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women 

Out director Angela Robinson (D.E.B.S.) and a powerhouse producing team that includes Jill Soloway and Andrea Sperling retell the story of the professor who created the Wonder Woman comics and the women who loved him and each other. The period piece stars Luke Evans as Professor James Marston, Rebecca Hall as his wife, Elizabeth Marston (an attorney and psychologist), and Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne, the student they love. The film intertwines the rise of their polyamorous relationship with the creation of Wonder Woman, which was loaded with bondage and kink it its nascent stage. Connie Britton and Oliver Platt costar in this thoughtful film. 

Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled 

All of Sofia Coppola’s auteur markers were on display in the eerie female-centric reboot of a 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle that was helmed by Don Siegel. Colin Farrell plays a wounded Irish-American soldier adrift in the South during the Civil War until Nicole Kidman’s Martha, the head of a school for girls, offers him shelter. Psychosexual games and torture ensue in the deliciously twisted flick that costars Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice, and Oona Laurence. While the film, in and of itself, is a shrewdly helmed, delicious slice of revenge fantasy, Coppola was rightly, roundly censured for her decision to write out a slave character who appeared in the book and original film. 

Kathryn Bigelow for Detroit 

The only woman to ever win a best directing Oscar (for The Hurt Locker) out of just a few who’ve been nominated throughout history, Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed Zero Dark Thirty, excavated the true events around police brutality that resulted in the deaths of three black men in 1967 in Detroit. The film, the message of which was that history repeats itself and that society should learn from it, was not exactly a critical darling, but Bigelow is as capable a director as any, and she could certainly give someone like Martin McDonagh, nominated for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, a run for his money. 

Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton for Battle of the Sexes

Beyond trouncing proud male chauvinist Bobby Riggs in the legendary 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match, Billie Jean King was a proponent for equal pay early in the game. The crowd-pleasing film from Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the directing team behind Little Miss Sunshine, recounts the story of how that famous battle came to pass at the same time it tracks King’s love affair with hairstylist Marilyn Barnett. And it does it with a whole lot of heart and the hope that is indicative of King’s brand of do-something-about-it feminism. Emma Stone (who is nominated for a Globe) stars as King, while Steve Carell (also nominated) plays Riggs and Andrea Riseborough portrays Barnett. Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue, and Natalie Morales costar. 

Dee Rees for Mudbound 

Pariah and Bessie director Dee Rees should be Oscar bound with this epic, important look at the lives of black sharecroppers and white landowners in the Mississippi Delta following World War II, but the Golden Globes failed to recognize her. However, Mary J. Blige earned two nods, one for her breakout role as Florence Jackson in the film, and one for “Mighty River,” the song she wrote for the movie.  Rob Morgan, Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, and Jason Clarke round out the cast of this modern masterpiece. 

Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman 

A critical favorite and a blockbuster smash, Wonder Woman is so deeply of the moment, shattering the myth that women can’t direct big action or superhero flicks. Wonder Woman is not only the first film starring a female superhero in more than a decade; it’s the first-ever superhero film directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron to Oscar (really, all of the acting awards that year) glory in Monster. Gal Gadot donned Wonder Woman’s bracelets and lasso of submission to lead a cast that includes Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, and Lisa Loven Kongsli (Force Majeure) as the women who advise young Diana on existing in the world of men in this origin story that inspired little girls and boys around the world to aspire to be like Wonder Woman. Action films are rarely nominated for Best Picture awards, but if cultural significance in a really well-directed package won prizes, then Wonder Woman should be the recipient.  

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird

Actress Greta Gerwig’s first feature as a writer-director stars Saoirse Ronan as a sardonic, recalcitrant Northern California teen navigating family, love, sex, and college applications and is universally critically acclaimed, earning it the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of all time. A pristinely executed bildungsroman, Lady Bird bears the markers of films that have come before it but with surprises, twists, and subtlety. The film costars Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Timothée Chalamet, and Lucas Hedges. Gerwig was nominated for a Golden Globe for her screenplay, but snubbing her for best director is a particularly out-of-touch move on the part of the Hollywood Foreign Press. 

Jeffrey Tambor Must Step Down From 'Transparent'

Jeffrey Tambor may not be leaving Transparent after all.

The actor previously said “I don’t see how I can return” to the acclaimed Amazon series, after facing three accusations of sexual misconduct. Two accusers are transgender women from the Transparent universe: his former personal assistant Van Barnes and actress Trace Lysette.

His statement, which condemned the accusations against him as part of “the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set,” was interpreted as a declaration of resignation.

However, a representative told The New York Times in a Wednesday article that Tambor actually had no plans to quit at present, leaving the show’s fifth season in limbo.

The accusations rattled the team of Transparent, which helped bring trans issues to the mainstream and employed trans talent both on and off screen. “It was devastating,” former producer Micah Fitzerman-Blue told the Times.

And the news that Tambor might stay on the production has angered and unsettled trans activists.

Dawn Ennis, The Advocate‘s former news editor and a blogger at LifeAfterDawn.com, has used her platform in the past to defend the cisgender actor and his casting as the transgender matriarch Maura — a divisive decision criticized by many as “transface” from the onset.

“I feel duped and betrayed,” said Ennis, who declared, “I can’t fathom how I can watch another episode of Transparent ever again.” The show is now “tainted by Tambor” if he stays, she said.

“I believe his refusal to step aside reveals his utter hubris, cis male privilege, and his complete ignorance of the perils we women actually face,” Ennis said. “There is no award for acting like you really care, when all you’ve done is prove you’re no better than any other cis het dude who lets his dick do all his thinking. I had expected better.”

Ashlee Marie Preston said she was “sickened but not surprised” by the allegations against Tambor. “Sexual abuse and violence at the hands of those we trust, even in the workplace, is part of our narrative,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened off script, out of role, and in a designated safe space meant to empower trans people.”

The trans writer and media personality, who hosts the Shook podcast, called on Transparent to make Tambor leave, if he refuses to do so volunterarily. Otherwise, the production would be complicit in any wrongdoing.

“Jeffrey Tambor had a lucky run, but it’s time for him to go,” Preston said. “The fact that he became the expert on our vulnerabilities through his role and consciously exploited them for his own pleasure makes Jeffrey a predator.”

“Refusing to leave the show is an act of intimidation and subjects those victimized to further violence,” she stated. “Anyone with the authority to remove him that doesn’t is an accessory, and they are actively promoting rape culture.”

In addition to a compromised work environment, Preston warns about the message Tambor’s staying would broadcast to viewers, which would run counter to the show’s spirit.

“It sends the message that trans women aren’t worth protecting,” said Preston. “It breaks the promise to all 24+ trans people who’ve lost their lives [this year]  that as a society we will do better.” She also believes that if Lysette and Barnes were cisgender, “the consequences would be heavier.”

In contrast, Tambor’s removal would proclaim that trans “lives matter, that we are believed, and that we are worthy of the dignity and respect the show claims to strive for through its storyline.”

Warwick Rowers: Russia Banned Naked Calendar for 'Gay Propaganda'

A calendar featuring naked athletes that benefits an LGBT sports charity has been banned in Russia for “gay propaganda,” claimed its makers.

Angus Malcolm, photographer and producer of the annual Warwick Rowers calendar, told The Independent, a British newspaper, that so far, six of 23 calendars shipped to the Eastern Eurpean nation have been rejected and returned without explanation.

Malcolm believes the country’s anti-LGBT laws are to blame. In 2013, Russia passed legislation that bans “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” In other words, it bars positive mention of LGBT issues in materials and venues accessible to young people, and has been used against Pride parades and even Facebook posts.

“My heart goes out to the rowers’ Russian fans, who are increasingly subjected to acts of hatred and discrimination that shouldn’t be tolerated in any society anywhere across the globe,” Malcolm told The Independent.

“The fact Russian customs rejected our calendar is nothing compared to the suffering some LGBT+ people face every day, but it acts as a signifier of the wider problem.”

In addition to the returned mail, which can cost up to 25 pounds per rejected item, WarwickRowers.org was also recently targeted by a denial-of-service attack, which temporarily disabled the website with a flood of traffic. The I.P. address was reportedly traced to Russia.

“If they can’t cope with a few naked bums, then frankly that’s quite sad,” Malcolm added.

The calendar in question features naked portraits of rowers from the University of Warwick, and it supports a good cause. A portion of sales benefits Sport Allies, which fights homophobia in sports.

Malcolm said that this spirit of acceptance was “heretical” in Russia. He said its president, Vladimir Putin, fueled “precisely the kind of toxic masculinity that Sport Allies and the Warwick Rowers want to challenge.”

Indeed, since the adoption of its “gay propaganda” laws, hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled in Russia.

See a preview of the 2018 calendar on Advocate.com.

Jeffrey Tambor Quits Transparent, Attacks 'Politicized Atmosphere' After Accusations

Jeffrey Tambor Quits Transparent, Attacks ‘Politicized Atmosphere’ After Accusations

Actor Jeffrey Tambor has quit Transparent, according to Deadline, and is condemning the accusations against him of sexual misconduct as part of “the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set.”

Tambor’s performance as Maura Pfefferman on the show has won him a Golden Globe and Emmy for acting. The show was headed into its fifth season, though it’s future will now be uncertain. 

“Playing Maura Pfefferman on Transparent has been one of the greatest privileges and creative experiences of my life,” said Tambor, according to the statement issued by his publicist. “What has become clear over the past weeks, however, is that this is no longer the job I signed up for four years ago. 

“I’ve already made clear my deep regret if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being aggressive, but the idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue,” he said. “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to Transparent.”

Tambor faced two accusations by trans people of harassment. The first was made by his former assistant, Van Barnes, who accused Tambor of saying “I should be sleeping with him if I want a Hollywood industry appropriate pay grade.” Then came an account on Thursday by actress Trace Lysette, who said that while on set, Tambor “came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrusts back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas and I pushed him off of me.”

Numerous famous transgender people had publicly expressed support for Lysette on Thursday, including model Isis King, Sense8 actress Jamie Clayton, journalist Janet Mock, and Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox. The entertainment world wasn’t the only to react to the allegations, with the National Center for Transgender Equality issuing a statement on Friday.

“Van Barnes and Trace Lysette are friends and my sisters. That this sort of thing has happened to them is heartbreaking for all of us at NCTE. That it happens so frequently—particularly to trans women—should horrify all of society,” said Mara Keisling, the group’s executive director. 

GLAAD last week issued a statement already looking into the next life of the show without Tambor, saying it hopes “future seasons will focus on more of the many brilliant characters that audiences love and care about.”

Indeed, a writer for the show, Our Lady J, who is also transgender, echoed Lysette’s call for Transparent to go on without Tambor in her Instagram statement, reiterating that “we cannot let trans content be taken down by a single cis man.”

Hate Crimes Rose About 5 Percent In 2016, FBI Report Says

Hate crimes across the U.S. rose nearly 5 percent in 2016, according to the FBI’s annual tally, marking the first time in over 10 years that the country has experienced consecutive annual increases in crimes motivated by bias against race, religion, sexuality, national origin or disability. 

The FBI’s annual hate crimes report, published Monday, counted 6,121 hate crime incidents in America last year, up from 5,850 such incidents in 2015, a rise of 4.6 percent. 

About 58 percent of the hate crimes in 2016 were motivated by racial bias, with more than half of the race-based incidents targeting black Americans, the report said. Hate crimes targeting Latinos rose 15 percent, and hate crimes targeting Arabs and whites rose 38 percent and 17 percent respectively. 

Twenty-one percent of the hate crimes the FBI counted last year were motivated by religious bias. Of those religious-based incidents, 54 percent were anti-Jewish and 25 percent were anti-Muslim. 

There was a 3 percent increase in anti-Jewish incidents, and a nearly 20 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents. (Last year, the number of anti-Muslim incidents rose 67 percent, increasing to levels not seen since the period directly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.)  

Nearly 18 percent of the hate crimes last year were motivated by sexual-orientation bias, 62 percent of those targeting gay men. The FBI also counted 105 anti-transgender incidents last year, a rise of 44 percent. 

The much-anticipated FBI report is the most comprehensive hate crime data available for the divisive 2016 election year, and backs up earlier evidence of rising hate in America. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented a wave of hate incidents in the months following the November 2016 election. 

“We now have an unbroken streak of presidential election year increases [in hate crimes] going back to 1992, around the time national data collection commenced,” said Brian Levin, a professor at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. 

But what makes 2016 stand out, Levin previously told HuffPost, is the steep rise in hate crimes around Election Day itself. Los Angeles, for example, saw a 29 percent increase in hate crimes in the last quarter of 2016, and New York City saw a five-fold increase in hate crimes over a two-week period around the election. 

Corey Saylor, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told HuffPost that “we cannot see such data and forget the humans whose lives were changed by an act of hate.” 

“Americans have to act to ensure that these hate crimes numbers go down by standing up to fear mongers,” he said.  

“It’s deeply disturbing to see hate crimes increase for the second year in a row,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “Hate crimes demand priority attention because of their special impact. They not only hurt one victim, but they also intimidate and isolate a victim’s whole community and weaken the bonds of our society.”

About 29 percent of hate crimes last year, according to the FBI, were acts of intimidation; 26 percent were acts of destruction, property damage or vandalism; 23 percent were simple assaults; and 12 percent were aggravated assaults. The FBI counted 4 murders in 2016 that it considered to be hate crimes. 

The FBI’s annual hate crime statistics, while the best measurement of hate in America, are deeply flawed. That’s because the FBI relies on local and state police departments to voluntarily report their hate crime numbers to the FBI, which over 3,000 law enforcement agencies don’t bother to do on a yearly basis. 

In 2015, of the agencies that did report hate crimes to the FBI, 88 percent reported zero. Moreover, federal law enforcement agencies like Customs and Border Protection and the Drug Enforcement Administration often fail to send their own hate crime statistics to the FBI, even though they are required to do so by law. 

A national survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over half of hate crime victims don’t report incidents to authorities at all. There were a staggering 250,000 hate crimes each year in the U.S. between 2003 and 2015, according to the survey. 

“FBI data showing 6,121 total hate crime incidents and 7 anti-Sikh hate crime incidents in 2016 represents the tip of the iceberg,” said Sim Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s national advocacy manager. “The only way to bridge the data gap is for law enforcement agencies to adopt mandatory hate crime reporting.”

“If law enforcement agencies fail to document the true extent of hate crimes against our communities, our nation will have a hard time mobilizing the political will and resources necessary to prevent and combat the problem,” Singh said. 

In a statement Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that “no person should have to fear being violently attacked because of who they are, what they believe, of how they worship.” 

He stated that the Justice Department’s Hate Crimes Subcommittee will continue to “explore ways to expand and improve training for federal, state, and local prosecutors and investigators; improve data collection of hate crimes; and to create even better partnerships with local law enforcement and affected communities.” 

Meanwhile, the hate crime numbers for 2017 aren’t looking great. Levin, the UC San Bernardino professor, conducted an analysis in September that found that 827 hate crimes had occurred so far this year in 13 large cities, a rise of nearly 20 percent compared to the same period in 2016 for those locations.

Of those crimes, 526 happened in America’s six largest cities, amounting to a 22 percent rise, Levin said.