Film for Thought: Gender and Sexuality Film Series

All films are free and open to the public.

Spring 2014

Crime After Crime
Monday February 17, 4:00 p.m.

Crime After Crime tells the story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. Over 26 years in prison could not crush the spirit of this determined woman, despite the wrongs she suffered, first at the hands of a duplicitous boyfriend who beat her and forced her into prostitution, and later by prosecutors who used the threat of the death penalty to corner her Into a life behind bars. Debbie’s story takes an unexpected turn two decades later when two rookie land use attorneys step forward to take on her case pro bono. Springfield attorney Bonnie Allen will introduce the film.

Cosponsored by Career Services

Bonnie G. Allen L’93 is in private practice with offices in Springfield and Northampton, specializing in criminal defense, civil rights and education law.  She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst - University Without Walls in 1990, and Western New England College School of Law in 1993.  She was a judicial intern for the Honorable Michael M. Ponsor, U.S. District Court, after which she joined the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Springfield Superior Court Trial Unit as a Public Defender (1994–1998). Attorney Allen served as Supervising Attorney for the District and Superior Court Bar Advocates in Hampden County from (2005-2010). She has been a presenter for CLE seminars for MCLE, MBA and CPCS, and annually cochairs MCLE’s Trends in Eyewitness Identification. In 2006, Attorney Allen was awarded the CPCS Thurgood Marshall Award for “zealous advocacy of the poor and the right to effective assistance of counsel.” 

Past films 2013

February 

Protection: Men and condoms in the time of HIV and AIDS
Presented in collaboration with the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Conceived and produced by Jill Lewis, Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at Hampshire College, this documentary is intended to encourage discussions on sexual well-being and safety among men, particularly those in sub-Saharan African countries. The challenges and realities of condom use are explored through poignant glimpses into the attitudes and feelings of men of different backgrounds and ages in South Africa, Kenya, and Sierra Leone, in rural and urban settings. Professor Lewis introduced the film and participated in an audience discussion after the screening.

April 9
"Using U.S. Courts to Protect Human Rights Abroad: A Community Discussion of Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively."
A presentation by Attorney Pam Spees, Center for Constitutional Rights, about a lawsuit alleging that local pastor Scott Lively’s political activities in support of anti-gay legislation in Uganda constitutes persecution under international human rights law. The case is the first to rely on the federal Alien Tort Statute to seek accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

April 3
"Gay Marriage and the Supreme Court: Reflecting on the Oral Arguments.” 
Excerpts from the gay marriage oral arguments, as well as the virtual presence of Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, a renowned scholar of Constitutional Law, who presented his analysis and took questions.

March 13
“Gay Marriage and the Supreme Court: A Public Discussion

A panel of experts from the law school discussing the complex and exciting issues in the two marriage equality cases before the U.S. Supreme Court this term:Hollingsworth v. Perry(California's Proposition 8) and United States v. Windsor(the Defense of Marriage Act). 

January 23
Telling Amy’s Story
a documentary about domestic violence presented by Detective Deirdri Fishel of State College, PA.
Hosted in conjunction with Hampden County District Attorney Mark G. Mastroianni L'89.

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Fall 2014 Events

Domestic Violence and the National Football League: A Public Discussion with Professor Michael McCann 
Wednesday, October 1, 12:00 Noon
Law Common

The Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies will present a timely discussion of the intersection of domestic violence and the culture of sport through the example of recent events involving the National Football League.

The lead discussant, appearing via Skype, will be Professor of Law and sports law expert Michael McCann. McCann is the Director of Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire.  He is also appears frequently in print, online, and social media, as well as on television, to analyze legal issues in the world of sport. His recent commentary has addressed such topics as the antitrust litigation against the NCAA, the Donald Sterling controversy, and the NFL’s response to Ray Rice.

Contributing to the discussion will be Professor of Law Erin Buzuvis, Director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies at Western New England University. Buzuvis researches and writes about sex discrimination and gender issues in the context of sport.   

Don’t miss this important discussion. Refreshments (pizza) will be provided.

Free and open to the public. 

Spring 2014 Events

Domestic Violence Series 
Film: Crime After Crime
Monday, February 17, 4:00 p.m.

Crime After Crime tells the story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. Over 26 years in prison could not crush the spirit of this determined woman, despite the wrongs she suffered, first at the hands of a duplicitous boyfriend who beat her and forced her into prostitution, and later by prosecutors who used the threat of the death penalty to corner her Into a life behind bars. Debbie’s story takes an unexpected turn two decades later when two rookie land use attorneys step forward to take on her case pro bono. Springfield attorney Bonnie Allen will introduce the film.

Cosponsored by Career Services

Bonnie G. Allen L’93 is in private practice with offices in Springfield and Northampton, specializing in criminal defense, civil rights and education law.  She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst - University Without Walls in 1990, and Western New England College School of Law in 1993.  She was a judicial intern for the Honorable Michael M. Ponsor, U.S. District Court, after which she joined the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Springfield Superior Court Trial Unit as a Public Defender (1994–1998). Attorney Allen served as Supervising Attorney for the District and Superior Court Bar Advocates in Hampden County from (2005-2010). She has been a presenter for CLE seminars for MCLE, MBA and CPCS, and annually cochairs MCLE’s Trends in Eyewitness Identification. In 2006, Attorney Allen was awarded the CPCS Thurgood Marshall Award for “zealous advocacy of the poor and the right to effective assistance of counsel.” 

Wednesday, March 12, 12:00 Noon, Law School Common

Discussion of Gender Inequities in the Treatment of Intimate Partner Violence

Attorney Wayne Thomas from the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project in Boston, copresenting with Professor Jennifer Levi about the MCAD v. The R.O.S.E. Fund case, which involves a male victim of intimate partner violence who allegedly was denied services on the basis of gender.

Sponsored by OutLaw.

Wayne Thomas is the creator of the legal program at the GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project in Boston, where he practices as the Managing Attorney. He handles civil protection order cases, discrimination, and family law matters and provides advocacy to victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system. Wayne served on the advisory board of the American Bar Association’s Legal Assistance and Education for LGBT Victims of Domestic Violence Project (2007-2009). He has presented on LGBTQ domestic and sexual violence legal issues at national conferences and trainings on behalf of the ABA and the National LGBT Bar Association. He has served multiple terms as c-chair of the GLBT Domestic Violence Coalition in Boston and was a member of the LGBT Subcommittee that successfully advocated for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He is also a coauthor of a chapter on intimate partner violence in GLAD’s book: Transgender Family Law. He is a graduate of the Northeastern University School of Law.

Wednesday, April 2, 12:00 Noon

Discussion of Domestic Violence Issues for Non-citizens and Immigrants

Attorney Hema Sarangapani from Boston, joined by Attorney Hisham Leil of Community Legal Aid, discuss the Violence Against Act Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Cosponsored by Women’s Law Association

Hema Sarang-Sieminski is an immigration attorney in private practice in Jamaica Plain, MA. She provides representation on a range of humanitarian and family-based immigration matters and specializes in options for immigrant survivors of domestic violence or partner abuse. Previously, Hema was a Staff Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services working primarily with immigrant survivors to access relief under the Violence Against Women Act. Hema is a 2005 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, and is committed to increasing awareness of the intersection of domestic violence with various forms of oppression including racism, sexism, homo/bi/trans phobia, anti-immigrant sentiment and ableism.  She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, has been a consultant and trainer with the Northwest Network in Seattle, WA and is a current volunteer with Boston-based The Network/La Red, an organization dedicated to ending partner abuse and oppression in LGBTQ communities.

Hisham Leil has been practicing immigration law since 1998. Attorney Leil started out in private practice in Hartford where he focused on criminal defense, family law and of course, immigration law. In 2007, he joined Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS) to develop and immigration practice within the agency. When WMLS merged with Legal Assistance of Central Massachusetts to form Community Legal Aid in 2011, Attorney Leil was hired as the managing attorney for CLA’s largest western Massachusetts office in Springfield.  Attorney Leil has trained agencies, domestic violence shelters and law enforcement throughout Massachusetts and the United States. In addition to being an adjunct professor at Western New England, he works as an attorney with ASISTA, a national organization funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women.

Fall 2013 Events 

Profiling, Race, and Masculinity: Florida, Massachusetts, and Beyond
Continuing the important national dialogue about race and profiling in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing and the trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013, at 12:00 noon in the Law School Common
Watch the video.

Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Indian Child Welfare Act
Monday, September 30, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Law School Common 
Hosted by Professors Jennifer Levi and Giovanna Shay with guests Professor Laura Briggs, Chair, Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Department, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Tracey A. DeMeyer, Shawnee-Cherokee author, journalist, and blogger; and Professor Barbara Atwood, Mary Anne Richey Professor Emerita of Law, University of Arizona, via Skype. 

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In the News

Read about Professor Jennifer Levi's recent collaboration entitled Transgender Family Law: A Guide to Effective Advocacy.

Connecticut Law Tribune January 30, 2012

CBS 3 Massachusetts’s New Transgender Rights Law:
Strategies for Compliance and Advocacy
January 14, 2012