gay rights

The Church of England is advising teachers to allow and encourage children to explore their gender identity.

In guidance issued Sunday the Church's education office told its almost 5,000 schools to allow students "to be able to play with the many cloaks of identity."

"Every one of us is loved unconditionally by God. We must avoid at all costs, diminishing the dignity of any individual to a stereotype or a problem," said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in a forward to the guidance.

Hello! We're back this week with a roundup that focuses on the goings-on at 400 Maryland Ave. SW — that's the federal Department of Education, in case you didn't know.

DeVos comments on LGBT student protections in new profile

Savannah Melher

When Troy Stevenson left the Democratic Party, after decades of political activism, his Republican colleagues were on his mind.

Stevenson, who heads Freedom Oklahoma, the state’s largest and most politically active LGBTQ rights organization, announced this month he switched his party affiliation to Independent. He said a lack of civility and an unwillingness to work with conservatives have stymied the party.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET

Edith Windsor loved Thea Spyer. For nearly half a century, the two were partners and eventually were legally married as well. When Spyer died in 2009, though, the federal government didn't recognize that love on Windsor's tax forms, expecting her to pay more than $350,000 in estate taxes.

Victor A. Pozadas

Thousands lined the OKC Pride parade route along NW 39th Street on Sunday evening.

The parade capped off a weekend of events for OKC Pride, which was celebrating 30 years since its first parade in 1987. Small gay pride celebrations in Oklahoma City date back to the 1970s.

Above are some photos we took during the parade.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Osage Nation has voted to change the definition of marriage in an election that drew an overwhelming number of absentee ballots.

The tribe will now define marriage as a union between "two persons" rather than "a man and a woman."

More than 1,100 people sent in absentee ballots but only 347 people showed up for onsite balloting during a two-day early voting period and on Monday, the actual election day.

There are renewed efforts at the state level to pass so-called religious freedom bills. LGBTQ rights advocates believe that's because local lawmakers are anticipating support from the Trump administration.

In Alabama, there's a bill that allows adoption agencies that are religiously affiliated to hold true to their faith if they don't think same-sex couples should be parents. The psychiatric community has found no evidence that having same-sex parents harms children.

An executive order protecting gays and lesbians who work for federal contractors "will remain intact" at President Trump's direction, the White House says. The move could allay concerns that Trump might end recently adopted protections against an anti-LGBTQ workplace.

The White House announced the move in a relatively short statement early Tuesday, saying that the president "is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community."

On behalf of the U.S. State Department, John Kerry has issued a formal apology for the department's pattern of discrimination against LGBT employees during a period beginning in the 1940s and stretching for decades.

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., had asked the secretary of state for such an apology in late November, calling the historical discrimination "un-American and unacceptable."

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