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In Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System, African-American students face a harsh reality. Typical teenage misbehavior, such as horseplay or cursing, doesn’t result in a trip to the principal’s office. Instead, these students are shipped off to alternative schools where they often languish for months, even years.

It’s a common sight across the country: A family packs up its belongings and moves to a new state it will call home. Sometimes it’s a job opportunity that calls. Other times it’s family. These moves are life-changing events for any family, but for LGBT people, the simple act of crossing a state line has even more significance.

As the school year draws to a close, the SPLC salutes just a few of the students this year who fought the good fight, challenging homophobia and gender discrimination in their schools. If it’s true that young people are our future, the future is looking pretty diverse, free and fabulous. We hope you are as inspired to read about them as we at the SPLC have been to work with them. 

"Today is an incredibly dark day for Alabama. Despite the fact that our state has suffered incredibly over the past year as a result of HB56, the Alabama legislature and Governor Bentley have chosen to double down by passing and signing into law an even more extreme measure. While other states have abandoned similar measures and even recalled the sponsors of such measures, Alabama has once again made a name for itself as the worst of the worst."

In an incredibly callous move earlier this week, lawmakers in the U.S. House passed a bill that stands to roll back important provisions of the Violence Against Women Act, which would leave immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault even more vulnerable to abuse.

Last spring, Florida lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2112, which allows counties to place children charged as juveniles in adult jails. Under this law, counties overseeing juvenile detention no longer have to adhere to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) standards developed over many years to protect the unique needs of children.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Beth Allen Law firm of Portland, Ore. sent a complaint today to two professional psychiatric associations, urging them to investigate the unethical use of conversion therapy by a Portland psychiatrist.

Earlier this year, the Southern Poverty Law Center achieved a major milestone in its campaign to stop the rampant bullying and violence faced by LGBT students, and those students perceived to be LGBT, in school. In March, it reached a settlement agreement with Minnesota’s largest school district, which agreed to adopt a wide-ranging plan to protect LGBT students from harassment.

This week, the state that created the blueprint for vicious anti-immigrant laws is going to court. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that will decide the constitutionality of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The court's decision is far greater than a single state's issue.

Xenophobia and a desire to find a scapegoat for these hard economic times will spur more anti-immigrant legislation. And there’s no shortage of lawmakers unwilling to hear other viewpoints. But there are still people unwilling to allow their state to be governed by fear.