Advocates for Youth believes that every young person is of infinite value, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, health status, socio-economic background, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Valuing youth provides an ethical imperative to acknowledge and serve GLBTQ youth equally and positively along with heterosexual youth. Society in the United States is overtly hostile to GLBTQ people, and societal homophobia often leads them to devalue themselves. Statistics paint a frightening picture of the stresses in the lives of GLBTQ youth. Violence and hostility at home and school may lead some GLBTQ youth to drop out, run away, use drugs, and attempt suicide. Despite these stressors, however, many GLBTQ youth are resilient and powerful and have become strong advocates for themselves.
Matthew Shepard Act
The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/ Matthew Shepard Act would add sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to existing hate crimes legislation. It would strengthen federal hate crime laws by allowing the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes cases.
Send a message to your Senator today. Remind them that America still needs the Matthew Shepard Act to help ensure safety and security for ALL American from senseless Hate Crimes, especially our youth.
Update: Victory! In October 2009, the Senate passed the Matthew Shepard act and President Obama signed it. Your advocacy helped to ensure the safety of GLBTQ youth!
Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)
Advocates supports ending all employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. ENDA is a proposed U.S. federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill provides employment protections similar to those of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (also known as "Title VII"), but specifically directed to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. The bill is different from Title VII in that it contains exemptions for religious organizations and specific provisions about employer dress codes.
Although the 2007 version of the bill, sponsored by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), was the first time the bill has included protection based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity, gender identity was later removed from the language. It is expected that the 111th Congress will have two versions of the ENDA bill, one with “sexual orientation” only, and one with “sexual orientation and gender identity.” Currently, 13 states have policies prohibiting both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in employment: CA, CO, CT, IA, IL, ME, MN, NJ, NM, OR, RI, VT, WA, plus the District of Columbia. Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York and Wisconsin have state laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. Fifteen other states have laws that have been interpreted to protect transgender persons.