News·4 min read

Daily Skimm: LGBTQIA+, Moderna, and Jack Daniel’s

high angle view of some pin buttons patterned with different LGBTIQ flags, such as the gay pride flag, the transgender pride flag or the bisexual pride flag, on a pink background
March 23, 2023


The Story

Bills targeting the LGBTQIA+ community are making headlines.

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As of early March, at least 385 bills taking aim at LGBTQIA+ rights have been introduced around the country. Tennessee became the first state to restrict drag shows. Iowa and Idaho sent bills to their governors’ desks to restrict bathroom access. West Virginia's one step away from banning gender-affirming health care for trans minors, while Nebraska is currently considering a similar measure. Meanwhile, Michigan added civil rights protections for the LGBTQIA+ community. Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening right now…

FloridaGov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) wants to expand the Parental Rights in Education Act — which critics dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” law — to include all grades. Currently, the law only applies to kindergarten through third grade. If expanded, no one would be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom. The proposal doesn’t require legislative approval and will be put to a vote in front of the state's Board of Education next month.

ArkansasEarlier this week, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR) signed a law that blocks transgender students from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity. The ban makes Arkansas the fourth state (along with OklahomaAlabama, and Tennessee) to pass this type of law in public schools. It’ll go into effect later this summer. It comes as state lawmakers consider an even stricter bill that would make it a crime for transgender adults to use public changing rooms and bathrooms that don’t match their sex assigned at birth.

Around the worldUganda is one of more than 30 African countries that criminalize homosexuality. Earlier this week, it went one step further by making it a crime to identify as LGBTQIA+. It could carry a life sentence. The bill also allows for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” — which is a broad term for sex acts committed without consent, against children, people with mental or physical disabilities, or involving incest. World leaders have been quick to condemn the bill. Same-sex acts were already illegal in the East African country.


Proponents of recent US bills say the goal is to protect and educate kids. But LGBTQIA+ advocates say trans students' lives are being put at risk and vow to fight the laws in court. Meanwhile, it’s also clear these type of laws aren't unique to the US, as other countries pass their own measures.

Correction: An earlier version of this article had the abbreviation for Arkansas as AK. It is AR.

And Also...This

What's looking at a price hike...

Moderna. Yesterday, the pharma giant’s CEO defended Moderna’s decision to increase the price of its COVID vaccine to about $130 a dose. It comes months after Pfizer announced it's raising its vaccine cost to between $110 to $130. The US has been paying Moderna between $15 and $26 a dose, while giving them to Americans for free. But that’ll come to an end once the Biden admin ends the pandemic public health emergency in May. At that point, Moderna will begin selling the vaccine to the private sector. Now, the price change could go into effect for Moderna’s booster rollout in the fall. People who are insured probably won’t see a difference. For the uninsured, Moderna said it's working to create financial programs that'll offer the vaccine for free. Critics say Moderna is taking advantage of taxpayers by charging up to four times the original cost. Moderna says they “landed on a price that is consistent with value.”

Who’s saying 'time for a change'…

President Biden. Yesterday, his admin announced plans to overhaul the US organ transplant system. For nearly four decades, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has been responsible for matching donors to patients and setting policies on how kidneys, livers, and other organs are distributed. Over the years, the group’s faced criticism for mismanaging the system and for its years-long waiting process. Despite a record number of nearly 43,000 transplants last year, 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant. Now, the Biden admin is looking to break up what it considers to be a monopoly. It tasked the Department of Health and Human Services with updating tech to modernize the IT system. It’s also looking for additional contracts with other orgs to help with demand and “foster competition.” UNOS said it welcomes an open bidding process that'll improve “efforts to save as many lives as possible.”

What’s got a message through the PA system…

The Federal Aviation Administration. Yesterday, the FAA sent a safety alert to airlines and pilots. Every day, there are more than 45,000 flights in the US. This year alone, there've been six serious near-accidents on airport runways. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a near-miss in January between FedEx and Southwest Airlines planes in Texas, which came within 100 feet of each other. And another runway incident at New York's JFK between American Airlines and Delta planes. Now, the FAA is telling pilots to be more vigilant for hazards when around other planes, taxiways, and runways. It notes the overall numbers don't reflect an increase in incidents but that the “potential severity of these events is concerning.”

What's taking a smaller jump...

The Federal Reserve. Yesterday, it raised key interest rates by 0.25 percentage point. It marks the ninth consecutive hike since the Fed started raising rates about a year ago. Many had their eyes on the Fed’s next move after SVB’s sudden collapse. The Fed maintains the US banking system is “sound and resilient” and decided to go ahead with increasing the benchmark funds rate to a range of 4.75% to 5% — the highest since late 2007.

Who's got a bone to pick...

Jack Daniel’s.

Who’s no longer punting the truth…

Gisele Bündchen.

While we miss Lara Jean…

We’re ready for Kitty.

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