Starbucks: Stand Up For Transgender Students
Dear Howard Schultz and Starbucks Employees,
The Trump administration is trying to erase transgender lives. Two years ago, my teaching career and twenty-year artistic practice was derailed after I filed a complaint with my school’s administration, asking for help with a hostile educational environment. The Department of Education refused to look into the matter because their office of civil rights did not recognize transgender students, even though such rights of students with health issues and disabilities are covered under Title IV and Title II protections.
Here’s where Starbucks comes in:
Your company needs to stand with transgender students and request that its educational partner, Arizona State University, stop retaliating academically against Leopoldo Bloom and allow him to return to his graduate studies for the 2019 Winter Semester. Starbucks should let Arizona State University know that Trans Students have
1. The right to privacy in their educational records and personal matters. Trans students should be treated like other students and be allowed to return to their studies after encountering health issues.
2. Trans students should be able to report instances of bullying and hostile work environments without being retaliated against and slandered by teachers as having ” mental health issues “.
3. Transgender students have a right to a supportive and respectful educational environment. Their request for equal treatment should not be treated as a threat or disruptive behavior to staff and peers. Their academic progress should be judged on merit and academic performance.
Transgender Artist Calls out Howard Schultz For Partnering with Anti-LGBT ASU
Seattle, WA (January 24, 2019) – Responding to a letter addressed to COO Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks’ executive team is refusing to take any action, on the request that the company demand its only higher ed partner, Arizona State University (ASU), to stop retaliating against a current graduate student who reported bullying.
During Mr. Bloom’s first year as a graduate student, he had numerous medical complications related to an emergency hysterectomy. When he reported to the School of Art that Professor Betsy Schneider publicly discussed his enrollment status against his wishes and FERPA regulations, he encountered widespread academic retaliation.
Professor Schneider began bullying him over email for “disrespecting” her classroom, his peers and refusing her requests for him to share with his fellow graduate students why he was forced to withdraw from full-time status. After Professor Schneider ignored Mr. Bloom’s request to stop emailing him about the matter before he went into surgery, Professor Schneider excluded Mr. Bloom from academic events for graduate photography students.
Months after Mr. Bloom’s health stabilized, he and Professor Schneider arranged an in-person mediation session with the University Ombudsman. Professor Schneider dismissed Mr. Bloom’s serious medical issues as “personal issues.” Additionally, Professor Schneider refused to sign or follow through with any of the mutually agreed upon resolutions.
To protect his academic position, Mr. Bloom filed a civil rights complaint with ASU on May 1, 2016. When interviewed the following week about the hostile work environment and cyber-bullying, Professor Schneider again dismissed Mr. Bloom’s concerns, stating that as a trans man he could not experience discrimination based on his gender, stating Mr. Bloom “wanted to have it both ways”.
When Professor Adriene Jenik, Mr. Bloom’s faculty mentor, personal confidante and Director of the School Art was asked about the situation, she also dismissed the hostility and discrimination that Mr. Bloom was experiencing as “mental health issues” and difficulty dealing with the serious “hormonal” physical impacts of the surgery.
As the actue stress of being discriminated against escalated, on May 26, 2016, Mr. Bloom began to also be threatened and harassed by his landlord. On May 31, 2016, Mr. Bloom was forced to abandon his home and was hospitalized for oral thrush, sleep deprivation and PTSD.
When released from the hospital on June 1, 2016, Mr. Bloom called the Student Crisis Line to for assistance with dealing with the situation. ASU was notified of the call and the administration met several times to discuss the ongoing matter with Professor Jenik, the head ASU’S Disability Services and counselors at ASU Student Services. Instead of being provided any helpful resources or addressing the impact that that the hostile educational environment had on Mr. Bloom, he was encouraged several times by Professor Jenik to seek a SMI (Serious Mental Illness) diagnosis from his medical providers.
Two weeks later, Professor Jenik announced that she would be stepping down as the Director of the School of Art at the end of the year. That summer, Mr. Bloom was informed by the Student Rights and Responsibility Office and Professor Jenik that his discrimination complaint was not properly filed, nor was he in good academic standing because he was not “academically progressing” in his program. He was additionally notified that he was “not a good fit” for the Photography Program.
Ultimately, Mr. Bloom tried to go public with the School of Art’s attempts at gaslighting him and the hostile work environment he had been experiencing for six months. He posted his story on Facebook, publishing the harassing emails he received from faculty and peers. The school removed the entire private Facebook group, two days later Mr. Bloom’s grants were revoked and the School of Art fabricated reports of threatening and harassing behavior to the Arizona State Police stationed on campus. Mr. Bloom was wrongfully suspended and banned from campus; the student body was publicly notified that he was a safety threat and to not communicate with him.
After nearly three years, the school has not resolved Leopoldo Bloom’s civil rights and academic retaliation complaints. In numerous civil court proceedings, the School of Art was unable to provide any evidence to back up their claim that he violated any student code of conduct. Last year Ann Hobart, the assistant attorney general of Arizona representing ASU, drafted a settlement agreement for Mr. Bloom. The administration at ASU revised the terms of the agreement adding that Mr. Bloom’s suspension would be removed from his educational records only if he agreed not to seek register for classes at ASU.
Mr. Bloom refused to sign the agreement because he wants to continue with his studies at is ASU. He is currently being threatened with wage garnishment by a collection agency authorized to collect ASU’s educational debits ASU charged him tuition for the semester he was wrongfully banned and suspended from campus
Here is the settlement agreement drawn up by the office of the Arizona Attorney General, the changes in red were recently added by ASU :
All documents including the evidence submitted by ASU can be accessed by the freedom of information act from the Department of Education and the United States District Court For The District of Arizona No. CV17-2524 PHX DGC.