9 Texas colleges on ‘shame list’ are ‘absolute worst’ for LGBTQ students

Campus Pride, a nonprofit dedicated to creating safe learning environments for LGBTQ students nationwide, has released a “Shame List” of colleges and universities it calls the “absolute worst for LGBTQ youth.” Nine Texas colleges, all with religious ties, were among the 102 schools on the list.

A giant rainbow flag is waved during the Austin PRIDE parade in downtown Austin Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
A giant rainbow flag is waved during the Austin PRIDE parade in downtown Austin Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

All of the colleges on the list have applied for exemptions from the Title IX statute, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. Schools that fail to observe Title IX cannot receive federal funding. However, it is possible to ask for an exemption if a school is able to prove the amendment is “inconsistent with the religious tenets of the organization.”

READ: U.S. judge blocks transgender rules for schools

Three of the Texas colleges to make the list have applied for a waiver:

  • Arlington Baptist College
  • Criswell College in Dallas
  • University of Dallas in Irving

The other six have been approved for a waiver either this or last year:

  • East Texas Baptist University in Marshall
  • Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene
  • Howard Payne University in Brownwood
  • Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton
  • Wayland Baptist University in Plainview

While Title IX was enacted in 1972 primarily to clear the way for girls pursuing higher education, the law was cited by the Obama administration in its guidelines about transgender students’ use of school restrooms.

Campus Pride encourages students who find their school on the list to reach out and file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. The organization releases another list annually of the 30 top colleges for LGBTQ students. No Texas schools made the “Best of the Best” list.

Zilker moonlight tower to be reinstalled with energy efficient lighting

From the City of Austin:

The Zilker moonlight tower will once again light up the night sky — but this time with energy-efficient, LED light bulbs. The moonlight tower was taken down in April to be repaired and restored, and Austin Energy contractors will erect the restored tower on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

USE THIS PHOTO The top of the Zilker Park moontower is lifted off the base as crews work to remove it on Friday, April 29, 2016. The tower, which also forms the yearly Zilker Christmas tree, is being taken down for restoration and repair and will be completed in time to celebrate the Zilker Tree's 50th birthday this holiday season. After being taken down, the Zilker moonlight tower will be disassembled and sandblasted to remove paint, corrosion and dirt. Then, the tower will be tested for cracks, repaired and repainted. The tower is expected to be reinstalled in Zilker Park in late summer 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN
The top of the Zilker Park moontower is lifted off the base as crews work to remove it on Friday, April 29, 2016. The tower, which also forms the yearly Zilker Christmas tree, is being taken down for restoration and repair and will be completed in time to celebrate the Zilker Tree’s 50th birthday this holiday season. After being taken down, the Zilker moonlight tower will be disassembled and sandblasted to remove paint, corrosion and dirt. Then, the tower will be tested for cracks, repaired and repainted. The tower is expected to be reinstalled in Zilker Park in late summer 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

 

PHOTOS: Zilker moonlight tower comes down … temporarily
The moonlight tower in Zilker Park is one of the original 31 towers that provided the City of Austin its first urban lighting system in 1895.

“No other city in the world still has moonlight towers. They’re historical treasures that Austin Energy is committed to maintaining,” said Dan Smith, Vice President of Electric Service Delivery. “We are also committed to reducing energy consumption and worked with the Texas Historical Commission to carefully choose LED light bulbs that preserve both the color and intensity of the original lighting.”

READ: Piece by piece, Austin Energy restoring aging moonlight towers

Austin Energy contracted with Enertech Resources, LLC to restore and repair the City’s 17 remaining moonlight towers. As part of the restoration process, all 17 moonlight towers will be outfitted with LED light bulbs, saving approximately 131,400 kilowatt-hours annually, which is the equivalent of powering 11 average-sized homes year-round.

In addition to upgrading the lights, Enertech disassembled the tower into individual components, sandblasted the components to remove paint, corrosion and dirt, tested them for cracks and voids, then repaired, repainted and reassembled the tower. Enertech also upgraded the wiring, electrical panel board, switches and relays.

“It’s not just about making the moonlight tower pretty; it’s about ensuring safety and bringing it up to today’s energy efficient standards,” said Smith.

“The Zilker Tree turns 50 this year, and restoring the moonlight tower to tip-top condition is part of the City’s preparation for the celebration.”

Every winter, the Zilker moonlight tower is transformed into the Zilker Tree, a holiday tradition since 1967.

Readers react to ‘Sekrit’ theater’s uncertain fate

The news that the future of Beau Reichert’s beloved East Austin backyard theater might be uncertain, following code and noise complaints placed by neighbors, did not please many readers on social media. Many expressed frustration at the situation and sadness at the possibility of an East Austin without “Sekrit Theater.”

jwj-Sekrit-Theater-0293
Beau Reichert says he misspelled “secret” on the sign for his backyard theater to try to keep it under the radar. JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Some questioned the ability of new Austin residents to accept the “weird” that accompanies an art-focused neighborhood in a pro-art city. Several people who personally know Reichert or have visited his theater spoke out in defense of his character and artistic venture.

Read what some Facebook users had to say below:

Capture1

Capture2

Capture3

Capture4

Capture5

Capture6

Capture7

Where do you stand on the issue of the secret theater? Treasured neighborhood art venue, noisy nuisance or something else? Comment below or on Facebook and let us know.

And the State Fair of Texas’ food winners are…

The oil’s been heated and the winners are coming in hot.

The State Fair of Texas has named two entrees major winners in the Big Tex Choice Awards. Chosen from eight finalists, one of the winners is, unsurprisingly, a fried dessert, while the other is also a dessert.

Taking home the fried cake, and the honor of “Best Taste,” is the oddly obvious Fried Jell-O, the Star-Telegram reports.

Over are your struggles of awkwardly biting into a round, unwieldy cookie. The second winner and “Most Creative” entree are the crinkle-cut State Fair Cookie Fries, which you can choose to dip in either a chocolate or strawberry “ketchup.”

READ: What fried creations might you see at the State Fair of Texas?

No matter what’s underneath the batter, this year’s fried treats are sure to fill you up as you explore the fair grounds. Read more about other sweet contenders at the Star-Telegram.

The New York Times got a little batty about Texas bats

According to a recent New York Times article, a summer evening in Texas just “isn’t complete without a bat show.”

People watch as Mexican free-tailed bats exit the South Congress bridge for the night on Monday, August 1, 2016 in search of insects such as mosquitoes. The colony of bats is said to reach 1.5 million during peak season when the babies have learned to fly on their own. Jessalyn Tamez / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
People watch as Mexican free-tailed bats exit the South Congress bridge for the night on Monday, August 1, 2016. Jessalyn Tamez / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

That groundbreaking news is the focus of a brief piece about nightly bat shows throughout Central Texas, complemented by some information on the Mexican free-tailed bats themselves.

Related: Ways to view the Austin bats

The piece opens up by describing a scene in which more than 15 million bats emerge from San Antonio’s Bracken Cave, the world’s largest bat colony. Cue a line about how everything’s bigger in Texas and the author explains why the bats’ Lone Star State homes are ideal.

According to the article, the dome ceilings of our caves — or bridge — trap heat, which creates a nesting ground for female bats to raise their young before migrating in the fall. Apparently, the millions of bats that take off all at once are all females and babies. “The males are around, but they’re scattered about in smaller caves or parking garages.”

Quiz: Test your bat knowledge

The Times advises that the best time to see Texas bats come out to play is when it’s hot and dry and hungry because that’s when they come out early. Though Austin bats were snubbed and not chosen to be the central focus of this piece, the city did get a solid shout out.

Photos: Bats under South Congress Bridge

“For a more urban experience,” the articles reads, “you can have a picnic or cocktail and watch 1.5 million bats drop down from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin and take off across the river like a school of fish.”

To read up some more about our nocturnal friends, read the full article here. 

 

Video shows woman chasing cat on Houston tollway

Untitled
Photo via Harris County Toll Road Authority

In an effort to rescue a cat crossing the Sam Houston Tollway, an unidentified woman caused quite the scene on Friday.

Read: 5 times wild animals got loose in Central Texas in 2015

The Houston Chronicle reports that a  video released by the Harris County Toll Road Authority shows the woman holding up Houston traffic as she chases a cat around the road. A police car appears to help block traffic so that the woman can retrieve the cat and return to her car.

Read: How Austin’s new Animal Services director plans to improve shelter

Tollway official Calvin Harvey told KTRK-TV that it is common for stray animals to cause a problem on major roadways but that civilians should not get out of their vehicles in moving traffic. He said it’s better to leave it to experts.

 

National Geographic features local photographer’s shots of Austin life

Brisk temperatures in the low 40's greeted Austin Monday morning along with a spectacular sunrise on the Roberta Crenshaw Pedestrian Walkway over Lady Bird Lake February 8, 2016. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN file photo.

From an artistic snapshot of Pennybacker bridge to a haunting image of horses at dusk, National Geographic recently featured a few photos that take a look at Austin life.

The photos were taken by a young Austin native and freelance photographer named Anneke Paterson for the piece titled “A Local Photographer’s Guide to Austin, Texas.” The slideshow is complete with a local musician playing outside of Spider House, a luminous bike and people gathering at Barton Springs.

Explore: Check out the American-Statesman’s photo and multimedia blog 

Read: ‘7 Stages of living in Austin’ — do you agree?

For copyright purposes, we couldn’t post the photos ourselves but you can view the slideshow here. 

The Greenbelt is open again. Celebrate with this drone footage of the area.

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department re-opened the Barton Creek Greenbelt for public use Wednesday, and many Austinites have already been taking advantage of the fact that they can hike, swim and jump off rocks at Campbell’s Hole again.

The Barton Creek Greenbelt has reopened Wednesday afternoon August 24, 2016 to recreational use after recent flood waters caused a closure from last week when the flow was deemed unsafe. Gilbert Acosta enjoys a peaceful alcove near what is called The Flats near Campbell's Hole as he enjoys the midday bliss of cool waters and clear skies. "I love to hike and come here often." said Acosta adding "This is a great way to spend the day." RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
The Barton Creek Greenbelt has reopened Wednesday afternoon August 24, 2016 to recreational use after recent flood waters caused a closure from last week when the flow was deemed unsafe. Gilbert Acosta enjoys a peaceful alcove near what is called The Flats near Campbell’s Hole as he enjoys the midday bliss of cool waters and clear skies. “I love to hike and come here often.” said Acosta, adding, “This is a great way to spend the day.”
RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

One person celebrated by taking some drone footage of the area Thursday and posting it on Reddit Friday. All of the above activities are featured, plus a cute dog.

Enjoy the footage below, and stay safe if you go out to Barton Creek this weekend.

 

 

This tiny downtown Austin apartment can be yours for $1,050 a month

We’ve heard of the tiny home movement, but this is too much.

A recent apartment listing on Austin Home Search advertises a “super nice East Austin efficiency just 1 block from Fiesta Gardens, Lady Bird Lake, hike & bike trails.”

Screenshot from  Austin Home Search
Screenshot from Austin Home Search

 

It comes with a bathroom and a kitchen. Utilities are paid for by the owner and there’s parking available on the street. There’s even a “nice yard with towering pecan trees” and a 6’x 8′ storage shed, which has “lots of room for your ‘stuff,'” according to the listing.

How big is it, you ask? Oh, 250 square feet. And it’s $1,050 a month.

via GIPHY

The listing was posted to the r/Austin subreddit, where it was roundly mocked.

“I wouldn’t pay $600 for that and I’m not sure that many people would,” one user wrote.

“I prefer Arthur Jackson over ‘two sheds’, thank you,” another user commented, referencing the Monty Python skit.

If you’re in the market for a $4.20 per square foot apartment and you have the money to burn, this bad boy could be all yours. The rest of us will keep bemoaning the loss of Old Austin.

 

 

Meet Texas’ Minnie Fisher Cunningham, who was Eleanor Roosevelt’s anti-slacker role model

On Women’s Equality Day — which commemorates the 19th Amendment’s certification in 1920 and thus the right of women to vote in the U.S. — the roll call of Texas women to recognize for their trailblazing badassery goes on and on and on. There’s “Ma” Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas. What about Barbara Jordan, the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress from a former Confederate state? Don’t forget Jane Long, the “mother of Texas.”

Minnie Fisher Cunningham (far right) and two others in front of car holding sign that reads: "Mrs. Minnie Fisher Cunningham for United States Senator." (Jordan Company. [Minnie Fisher Cunningham for US Senate], photograph, 1920~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth124403/: accessed August 26, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.)
Minnie Fisher Cunningham (far right) and two others in front of car holding sign that reads: “Mrs. Minnie Fisher Cunningham for United States Senator.” (Jordan Company. [Minnie Fisher Cunningham for US Senate], photograph, 1920~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth124403/: accessed August 26, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.)
But because of the reason for this particular season, let’s take a moment to remember Minnie Fisher Cunningham, the Texas suffragist who was so tenacious that Eleanor Roosevelt herself had stars in her eyes. She was born in 1882 near New Waverly. In 1919, Cunningham helped found the National League of Women, serving as its executive secretary. From the Texas State Historical Association:

“Twenty years later Eleanor Roosevelt recalled that Cunningham’s address at the league’s second annual convention made her feel ‘that you had no right to be a slacker as a citizen, you had no right not to take an active part in what was happening to your country as a whole.'”

Roosevelt or no Roosevelt, Cunningham was a force of nature. She got her teaching certification at the age of 16, and she was the one of the first women in Texas to receive a degree in pharmacy. The world of remedies only kept Cunningham for a year before pay inequality “made a suffragette out of me,” she said. When the 19th Amendment passed, she “pursued governors all over the west” in a campaign of persuading them to ratify it.  Cunningham became the first Texas woman to run for U.S. Senate in 1927, running on an anti-Ku Klux Klan platform. And yes, she eventually ran for governor.

All that, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself nicknamed her “Minnie Fish,” too.