Young People Nationwide Call On Senators to Pass the Equality Act
Over 40 student groups representing nearly 500 students across 18 different states sign letter in support of the Equality Act
Washington, DC – Student groups around the nation are calling on their Senators to pass the Equality Act. This week, young people will meet with their Senators to demand passage of the Equality Act as part of the Freedom and Opportunity for All coalition. Over 40 student groups around the country have signed on to a letter in support of passage of the bill.
“LGBTQ+ students deserve to exist, thrive, and learn in affirming and supportive spaces, and students need the Equality Act to be safe in their schools and communities,” said Amber Barcel, Senior Policy Analyst with Advocates for Youth. “Around the country we’re seeing young people lead movements for rights and justice even as homophobic and transphobic politicians codify discrimination and build campaigns on bullying. We need the Senate to join young people in this fight and take action to pass the Equality Act.”
“The Equality Act is vital for LGBTQ+ people across the life course, from children to older adults, our rights need to be protected in every state and every public setting. For me, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity no matter where I am in the US would only be the first step in creating a less hostile and more equitable environment for queer and trans people. The fact that it is 2022 and young people like me are still advocating for non-discrimination statutes illustrates a grim reality for queer and trans people, despite the strides in progress in recent decades,” said Talia Kieu, graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill and member of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council at Advocates for Youth.
According to the 2019 GLSEN National School Climate Survey, many LGBTQ+ students in middle school and high school feel unsafe or uncomfortable at school due to the environment being hostile. An overwhelming majority of LGBTQ+ young people routinely hear homophobic and transphobic rhetoric from peers and even educators or other school staff, leading them to avoid extracurricular activities or attending class altogether. About 86.1% of LGBTQ+ students have been harassed or assaulted based on personal characteristics, including sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender. Youth with intersecting racial-ethnic, socioeconomic identities, or citizenship or ability status, further face compounding experiences of discrimination at school.
Passing the Equality Act will ensure that LGBTQ+ youth can fully participate in student life and enjoy equal academic and extracurricular benefits as their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Any federally funded university will be required to treat transgender students in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, including when accessing locker rooms and restrooms. Further, LGBTQ+ young people will not be restricted from forming a Gay Straight Alliance or disciplined for public displays of affection that were not similarly disciplined among non-LGBTQ+ students.
“Senators, you have the power to make LGBTQ+ students around the country safer. Please prioritize this bill and stop the tidal wave of anti-LGBTQ+ hate triggered by the far right,” said Amber Barcel.
Advocates for Youth is a 501(c)3 organization that champions efforts that help young people make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates boldly advocates for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health, focusing its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.