Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Hello Teen Resisters!
It's that time of year! Pride Month.
Pride month is a time of pride (duh) for LGBTQI+ people, but also a time to remember that queer people are still oppressed around the world and in our own country. Pride was started as an act of resistance in the historical Stonewall riots (started by a Black trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson), and queer people's existence is still resistance in most places.
We've compiled this list so you can celebrate pride by resisting- and of course, with some glitter. We've selected just a few important issues.
Ready to jump in?
Disproportionate Murder Rates for Trans Women of Color:
What’s Going On:
There is a murder epidemic going on in the community of transgender women of color, particularly Black trans women. In 2017, 26 transgender individuals were known to be murdered, making it the deadliest year for trans individuals in over a decade. All but two were people of color [Glaad]. This statistic, although overwhelming alone, does not take into account all the victims misgendered by family, friends, news reports, and the police. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “Transgender women are estimated to face more than four times the risk of becoming homicide victims than the general population of all women.” Additionally, out of the 102 trans people that were recorded victims of fatal violence since 2013, at least 87 of them have been people of color and 75% were under the age of 35. Gun violence continues to be the leading cause of death.
What You Can Do
Legal Protections for LGBTQI+ Individuals
What's Going On:
Many of us are familiar with the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage. This landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same sex couples by both the Due Process Clause (protection of life and liberty) and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified after The Civil War and was originally designed to ensure legal equality for African Americans. Courts have interpreted the Equal Protection Clause to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, and disability. This 2015 ruling expanded the amendment to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and required all fifty states to perform and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples on the same terms and conditions, with the same rights and responsibilities, as the marriages of opposite-sex couples.
The federal government does not have laws specifically protecting transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer people from discrimination, or allowing gender/name changes on identity documents (driver’s license, passports, birth certificates), but rather, these laws vary by state jurisdiction. Many politicians, namely Barack Obama, argue that the Equal Protection Clause should be extended to transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Obama issued executive orders prohibiting such discrimination in the federal workforce, and allowing public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity. Unfortunately, when Trump took office, he rescinded those guidelines, arguing that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference. The federal law in question, Title IX, bans sex discrimination in education. Members of the Justice and Education departments are working to settle Title IX to extend these protections to a person’s gender identity. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, as of this month, 18 states and Washington, D.C, and more than 200 cities and counties have adopted laws prohibiting gender identity discrimination.
For specifics on where your state stands with discrimination, bathroom, and identity documentation, check out: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law
What You Can Do:
Under the First Amendment, we can urge elected officials to end discrimination and recognize gender and sexual identities, and to lobby to pass certain bills.
If you feel that your First Amendment rights have been infringed upon, or you are treated with unlawful discrimination, document it thoroughly and report it to the ACLU LGBT Project at 212-549-2627 or email@example.com. In addition to discrimination, you can also contact the project with any questions or concerns, specifically regarding LGBTQI+ parenting, marriage and relationships, youth and schools, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS.
LGBTQI+ Homeless Youth
What's Going On:
With LGBTQI+ identifying youth making up nearly 40% of all homeless youth while only accounting for an estimated 7% of all youth, homelessness is an issue which ravages LGBTQ+ youth at disproportionate levels. According to a 2012 study conducted by the Williams Institute, 46% of homeless LGBTQ+ youth ran away because of their family’s rejection of their sexuality or gender identity; 43% were forced out by their families, and 32% faced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse at home. Facing the risk of harassment, stigmatization, and abuse in shelters, LGBTQ+ youth are also more likely to live on the streets than their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts.
While acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has generally increased, it is important to remember and support the multitudes of young people who face homelessness and instability in their lives daily.
What You Can Do:
Bias, Heteronormativity & Cisnormativity
Bias, Heteronormativity, and Cisnormativity in Society
Our society is intensely “normative” of the straight and cisgender individual, a perception which is created by the largely straight and cisgender figures and role models in every type of media. This bias is created in us essentially from the moment that we are born, starting with Disney movies and picture books and continuing in almost every aspect of our lives through adulthood.
Most surveys, for example, only give the option to check “male” or “female.” Gendered toys are still prevalent; bathrooms are clearly and unavoidably labeled. Bisexual individuals are written off as “confused,” and dating sites often only give the option to connect with members of the opposite gender. There are countless other examples of heteronormativity and cisnormativity present in our day-to-day lives that silence and push down members of the LGBTQI+ community. Sexual education in high school health classrooms is incredibly problematic in numerous ways, and it often enforces the idea that heterosexuality is “right” or “normal” and that all other sexualities are unnatural. A lack of information about how to have safe sex (whatever kind it may be) also leads to more STDs, a lack of awareness about diseases such as AIDS, and generally more risk-prone and less informed teens.
So: what can you do?
Global Persecution in Chechnya
What's Going On:
On April 28th, 2017, news broke of queer purges going on in Chechnya, Russia. The news detailed intense, state-initiated violence towards queer people, which involved coercion and torture. Many have been rounded up and not seen since, others were tortured and let go, and still more were handed over to their families to be killed in “honor killings.” The testimonies are harrowing- tales of forced suicide, genocidal killing tactics, and chilling capture, and are painful to listen to. Elena Milashina, the Russian journalist who broke the story, has said that for Chechen queer people, “it is not about the right to love, it is about the right to live.” In the past year, groups of American allies like Voices4 have mobilized to end the persecution of innocent queer people in Russia. Voices4 has a set of demands that includes a US investigation into the persecution in Chechnya, the acceptance of more asylum-seekers from the region, and more mainstream media coverage.
What You Can Do:
Happy Pride Everyone!! Take care of yourself and others.
All our love!