In honor of Pride Month, RALIANCE Policy Director Terri Poore weighs in on a fraught policy landscape for the LGBTQ+ community:
Pride Month is a time to celebrate the spectrum of ways humans can express themselves and build relationships. It’s also a time to acknowledge and address both the past and ongoing oppression of LGBTQ+ people and its intersection with racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination.
On the policy front, we’ve had major reason to celebrate and grieve this month. Last week, the United States Department of Education confirmed that Title IX protects students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, providing hope the Biden administration will take legal action in the future to protect trans students. But at the same time, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted that 2021 was the worst year in recent history for state legislative attacks against LGBTQ+ people.
HRC found that seventeen anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been enacted into law so far this year. Many of these bill target trans youth by banning medical care and their participation in sports. HRC activists recognize that these proposals take advantage of the ignorance many people have about the needs and real lived experiences of trans people.
Data reveal that transgender people face extraordinarily high levels of violence, including sexual violence. This is especially true for Black trans women, leading many anti-sexual violence advocates to get involved in the intersectional work of preventing racism, sexism, and LGBTQ+ discrimination – our work to end sexual violence will never be complete if any form of oppression remains. That’s why, at RALIANCE, we believe we have an obligation to serve as partners to trans activists and organizations working to push back on anti-trans policy at the local, state, and national level.
Importantly, organizations, businesses, and leaders can take measures to model an approach that supports inclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals. For starters, they can proactively design organizational hiring and non-discrimination policies that may be even more inclusive than those required by law, as well as work to offer employee benefits that meet the diverse needs of their workforce. Additionally, they can model inclusive behavior by encouraging employees to list their pronouns in email signatures or by encouraging sensitivity around cultural observances – such as Father’s Day – that can often be heteronormative.
On a webinar hosted by State Innovation Exchange (SiX) last week, the organization’s co-executive director, Jessie Ulibarri, said that trans rights are about “autonomy, agency, and the right to joy.” That goal of liberation is one we share for all people, and we can’t rest until it’s achieved.
For a full list of state legislation on this issue, visit the ACLU.
RALIANCE provides consulting, assessment, and employee development services to help build more equitable workplace cultures and create environments free from sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse. We stand ready to support your organization’s goals – contact us today at [email protected] to get started.