8-year-old San Jose boy who joined high school gun protest gets encouragement from actors, authors

By Alyssa Pereira, SFGATE Published 3:06 pm, Wednesday, March 14, 2018 An 8-year-old boy in San Jose walked out of his classroom on Wednesday morning to join the millions of students protesting for more gun control regulations across the country. Tied around his neck was a simple, brown cardboard sign with earnest, marker-written text: "Guns are cruel, not cool." The young student, named Leonardo Aguilar, was the only one in his 2nd-grade class at San Jose's Trace Elementary to walk out. With none of his classmates to join, Aguilar (and his mother) walked to Lincoln High School to stand with the older kids. KPIX reporter Len Ramirez and a cameraman spotted the little boy as he swayed against a wall, watching and listening to the high schoolers making speeches nearby. Ramirez took a photo of the boy and tweeted it shortly before 11 a.m. It immediately went viral. Leonardo Aguilar was the only one to walk out of his second grade classroom so he joined the highschoolers at Lincoln High in San Jose. @CBSSF #walkout pic.twitter.com/v9SQAAEn4f— Len Ramirez (@lenramirez) March 14, 2018 RELATED: Thousands of students protest gun violence in nationwide walkout Over the next few hours, the picture got nods of encouragement from thousands of Twitter users, including actors Piper Perabo, Constance Marie, and Patton Oswalt (the last of whom plays a high school principal on TV's "A.P. Bio"), Recode reporter Meghann Farnsworth, and New York Times best-selling authors Jenny Han and Jamie Ford. Marvel and D.C. comic-book writer Brandon T. Snider praised Aguilar as "my hero": Leonardo Aguilar is MY HERO!!!! https://t.co/ndnuQxBJWd— Brandon T. Snider (@BrandonTSnider) March 14, 2018 RELATED: 'Guns are stupid': The devastating signs of the national high school campus walkout window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', Continue Reading

California high school under fire after student-run ‘Fantasy Slut League’ uncovered; boys rated, ‘drafted’ unsuspecting girls for sex acts

A tony high school in California's Bay Area is cracking down on students for running an underground "Fantasy Slut League" that graded girls and awarded points to boys who engaged in sex acts with them. Piedmont High School Principal Rich Kitchens told parents about the league in a letter on Friday after some teachers got wind of it during a recent assembly on date rape, according to local reports. "It has been reported that students on some of our Varsity Teams have set up a 'Fantasy Slut League' in which our female students (unbeknownst to most of them) are drafted as part of the league," Kitchens said in the letter. "Male students earn points for documented engagement in sexual activities with female students." Kitchens said he was "sorry to find out that this concept is not unique to Piedmont High School" and that students had been participating in the perverted pastime for five or six years. Older students often pressured younger students to participate, using alcohol, while the underclassmen appeared to cave to "social demands to be popular, feel included and attractive to upper classmen," the letter said. KGO-TV The high school didn't identify the participants, but said a series of assemblies was planned to address the behavior. Some parents say the school isn't going far enough. Superintendent Constance Hubbard told local KGO-TV that the school "wanted to make sure that parents were aware of things that were going in their kids' lives." The school has not identified any students who participated in the league, but was planning a series of assemblies to discuss the issue, Hubbard and Kitchens said. Some parents said the school wasn't taking the issue seriously enough. "I am appalled by the administration's decision to hold an 'assembly' to educate and 'move forward,'" Lee Ann Clements, who said her daughter was a sophomore at Piedmont High, said in a comment on the Piedmont Patch news website. "Why isn't PHS conducting a Continue Reading

Georgia high school student sues high school over gay prom king, queen proposal

An Atlanta-area teen is suing his high school after he claims he was booted from his position as student body president for introducing changes that would make it easier for gay couples to be named prom king and queen. Reuben Lack, a senior at Alpharetta High School, said he brought up the idea of a gay-friendly "prom court" during a student council meeting in January, according to the suit. On Feb. 8, Lack says he was stripped of his presidency and for "pushing personal projects," his lawyer said. The 18-year-old filed the suit on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta in order to be reinstated as president. The principal, two of the student government's faculty advisers and the Fulton county school district were named in the lawsuit. "Reuben is just a kid who wants to finish his term of class president, something that is very important to him, and something that he earned through his own hard work and persistence," his attorney, James Radford, said in a statement on his website. Radford said Lack and his family have been "overwhelmed" by publicity surrounding the case, and the teen had become a target for online bullies. But school district officials said the teen was yanked from office for being a flake. "The student was essentially a poor leader," Suzann Wilcox Jiles, a lawyer for the district told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. "He behaved in manner not becoming of student body president including but not limited to rescheduling meetings with little notice, directly going against the instructions of the faculty advisers." Radford called the district's story "baloney." "The evidence will include the fact that Reuben served as class president for ten months, ten months, with not a single warning from the administration that his position was at risk," Radford said in the statement. "And then two weeks after his re-introduction of the ‘prom court’ resolution, he was sacked." READ IT: TEEN BOYS IN VIRGINIA, Continue Reading

‘Big Apple Greeter of the Year’ will greet you, and treat you, to educational tours of New York neighborhoods

Saul Raw took an hour to walk the two blocks from Seventh Avenue to Grand Army Plaza. He made that walk one fascinating hour. Raw, 65, is a volunteer with “Big Apple Greeters,” the group Lyn Brooks founded 20 years ago to improve New York City’s image by having knowledgeable city residents serve as free tour guides for visitors to the five boroughs, be they foreign or domestic. A Park Slope resident, social worker and college professor, Raw is Big Apple Greeter’s “2012 Greeter of the Year,” and he wasted little time on the walk before displaying his prodigious knowledge of all things New York. “What is interesting about Park Slope is that even though you have some pre-Civil War houses, a lot of it was developed after the Civil War,” Raw said as he ushers his charges up Berkeley Place. “What enabled these houses to be built in many cases was the rise of industry during and after the Civil War. The whole development of this area started with (Edwin) Litchfield essentially, and Litchfield Villa is now the Parks Department headquarters in Prospect Park near Third Street. “This had been a well-to-do area originally, with people who had enough money to buy these five-story houses. What’s interesting — and by modern standards it seems really extravagant — is that all of these houses were built as one family homes by people who had the money and means to maintain them.” Many of the houses are missing stoops because “at a certain point in history people began to think stoops were old fashioned, not modern looking,” Raw said. “Now people pay lots of money to have them rebuilt.” Raw’s been a Big Apple Greeter for 10 years, and estimates he’s conducted around 30 tours annually. He’s speaks fluent French and passable Spanish, though, he says, “in Spanish I sweat a lot. I usually ask Spanish speakers to slow down, but after a Continue Reading

Empowering girls is New York Urban League’s goal

As only the second woman to head the New York Urban League in the group's 90-year history, Arva Rice knows the difficulties women face carving out professional careers. That's why Rice, NYUL's president and chief executive officer, started the "Stronger: Girls Empowerment Day" when she took over the group two years ago. "I wanted girls to be able to connect with women outside their neighborhood who are not that different than they are," Rice said. "They may not live in the same project or their block, or they may live on their block, but it was really important for me to be able to create that opportunity for them to be exposed to professional women." The NYUL will hold its second Girls Empowerment Day on Friday. Some 150 girls from several city high schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island will spend the day meeting with female executives and employees of several companies, including the Yankees, CBS, NBC, the Daily News and the NYPD. "It is really an opportunity to introduce them to careers that they might not normally have an opportunity to know about," Rice said. "It's an opportunity to go to Madison Square Garden and not just see a Knicks game but see who are the people that help to bring those games to life. "There actually are a lot of women with the Yankees, including Jennifer Steinbrenner-Swindal herself," Rice said. "So it's a chance for girls to see there are opportunities for women in sports beyond being cheerleaders and players' wives." Rice is the second woman, after Harriet Michel in the early 1980s, to lead the NYUL since its inception, though women have led other local chapters. None has held the national office, but Rice said former National Urban League President Vernon Jordan "really helped to promote women in leadership within the movement." Rice has been thrilled at how eagerly companies agreed to host the students. "It was such a wonderful surprise to hear people's response when we would call up," she said. "It was Continue Reading

Mississippi high school settles lawsuit with lesbian teen, Constance McMillen, over prom

A Mississippi school that canceled its prom because a lesbian teen wanted to bring her girlfriend has agreed to pay up. The Itawamba County School District is shelling out $35,000 to Constance McMillen to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed on her behalf by the ACLU, The Associated Press reports. "I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me," the 18-year-old said regarding her fight with the high school. "I knew it would change things for others in the future and I kept going and I kept pushing." The school district also agreed to follow a nondiscrimination policy, which it claims was already in existence. McMillen says the battle has left her ostracized in her hometown of Fulton. The incident began with a simple request to bring her girlfriend to the prom. The Itawamba Agricultural High School responded by cancelling the classic high school event all together. The move quickly drew fire from the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit claiming McMillen's rights had been violated. It also demanded the school hold the prom. The school refused, but a parent-sponsored prom was held instead. However, McMillen and the ACLU later claimed this was a "sham" event attended by only a handful of students, while the rest of the school celebrated at a private affair. The high school graduate received national attention for her battle with the Itawamba County School District. She received a $30,000 scholarship from Tonic.com, a digital media company, during an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in March, and took part in the New York City's Gay Pride Parade in June. Twitter.com/NYDNSheridan Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Hate group Westboro Baptist Church to picket lesbian teen Constance McMillen’s graduation

A Mississippi lesbian who was denied the chance to go to her school's prom is now being targeted by a Kansas-based hate group - and it is going to protest at her graduation.The Westboro Baptist Church, which has drawn jeers for picketing at soldiers' funerals and on Tuesday cheered the deaths of 12 tornado victims in Mississippi, said in a statement last weekend that they will be on hand for Constance McMillen's high school graduation ceremony, the Advocate reported."[We] will picket the graduation of Itawamba Agricultural High School to remind the parents, teachers and students of this nation that God said 'Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind, it is abomination,'" the group declared.McMillen fought a legal battle with her Fulton, Miss., high school after it refused to allow her to attend the prom with her girlfriend. In response to the fight, the school then decided to cancel the prom.She won in court after the judge found that the school had violated her freedom of expression, but did not force the school to reinstate the classic high school event.McMillen then attended a privately held prom, but said afterward that the one she went to was actually a "fake," while most of the rest of her classmates attended another prom she wasn't told about.The 18-year-old received national attention for her battle with the Itawamba County School District. She received a $30,000 scholarship from Tonic.com, a digital media company, during an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in March.McMillen has also been invited to take part in New York City's Gay Pride Parade through Greenwich Village in June. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Constance McMillen,Mississippi lesbian teen banned from prom, to lead NYC gay pride parade

Who needs prom court when you’ve got the gay pride parade? A lesbian Mississippi teen barred from attending her prom because she is gay and hoped to bring a female date has been named a grand marshal of New York City’s June 27 pride parade, organizers announced. Constance McMillen, 18, gained national attention after she was barred from attending prom at her Fulton, Miss. high school with her longtime girlfriend. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school district on her behalf after school officials said she could attend the dance with a male date, or alone. A federal judge ruled that the school had violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights. She received a $30,000 scholarship from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after the talk show host said she admired McMillen for standing up for herself against her school district’s prom policy. The city's parade started in 1970, and is the nation's oldest gay pride parade.  The route follows Fifth Avenue uptown through Greenwich Village past the site of the historic Stoenwall Inn - where a 1969 police raid is now commemorated as the launch of the Gay Rights Movement. Last year's parade featured three grand marshals:  Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg, aides to gay rights activist California Harvey Milk, and Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter and director who won an Academy Award for his 2008 screenplay "Milk."   Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Carey: School gave me ‘fighting chance’

The Hon. Hugh Carey, a razor-sharp 90, is talking about how St. Augustine's - his former grammar school and high school, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in November - prepared him for the bare-knuckle warfare of New York politics. "When I graduated St. Augustine's grammar school under Sister Mary Morris, I won the General Excellence Award ring," says the former congressman and two-term New York governor, sitting in the lobby of the Manhattan branch of St. John's University, his alma mater, which will be naming a conflict resolution center in his honor in a few minutes. "My chief contestant on the girl's side in St. Augustine's was Janet Gallagher," he says. "I used to beat Janet in spelling bees and tests. The .Gallaghers were a large family of girls from Sixth Ave. in Park Slope. And one day after I'd beaten Janet, a tall girl walked toward me outside school, and asked, 'Are you Hugh Carey?' I said I was. She said, 'Well I'm Constance Gallagher, Janet's big sister, and you better stop beating my kid sister.' With that she hauled off and swatted me and I tumbled down on the curb." Across the street from the grammar school lived another St. Augustine's student named Frankie Dorn. Both kids would learn Latin from the same popular teacher/sports coach named Ray Brustman, who today has a scholarship fund named for him, to which all proceeds will flow from St. Augustine's 100th anniversary celebration dinner at the Union League Club in Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 20. "In 1960, Frank Dorn was the local unbeaten congressman," says Carey. "But he offended me because he put out a selective poll saying that Nixon would beat Kennedy by 30 points. I was living on E. 22nd St. in Flatbush with my wife and 10 children, in Our Lady of Refuge parish, and so I went to our local Democratic leader and asked who was gonna run against Dorn. He said nobody, because Dorn had crushed Tommy Cuite in the last election. I said somebody's gotta do it." Back in St. Augustine's Continue Reading

Business, condos, new stadium fuel growth in downtown Flushing

Powered by a monstrous upscale mixed-use condominium development and a brand-new stadium, downtown Flushing rivals any civic construction and neighborhood betterment program across the five boroughs. With a growing population of 180,000 people, 39 banks and average local salary increasing annually since 2000, Flushing needed this makeover. The downtown area competes with Times Square for crowded streets. Retail on and off Main St. continues to push into the second and third floors, where mortgage brokers and dentists set up shop above restaurants and banks. There's so much signage for tarot cards, acupuncturists and massage parlors, the area feels almost decadent. Not an inch of space gets wasted here. Five blocks from the hordes of people on Main St., Flushing mellows as curved and slanted streets break free of any grid system. Residential housing includes large apartment complexes and six-story brick buildings with courtyards and columns dating to the 1930s. Further inland, 1920s single-family houses, some mansions, contend with imposing new all-brick developments trying to beat a pending zone change. Making for a peaceful alternative to the urban core of downtown, Buddhist temples neighbor new developments and these historic homes. The history: Flushing prides itself on predating the U.S. Constitution when it comes to advocating religious tolerance. The Flushing Remonstrance was a petition given to Colonial New York Gov. Peter Stuyvesant, stating that Flushing citizens would not uphold his ban forbidding Quakers from worship. Dating to 1657, the Remonstrance is one of the oldest documents regarding religious freedom signed in what would become the United States. Since then, Flushing has welcomed all religions, including the early Russian Orthodox, several Buddhist sects, and recent Korean Episcopalians. On Sundays, church vans usher the neighborhood elderly to their respective religious services. A quiet side-street house dressed up with 20-foot- tall stone Continue Reading