Saturday, May 14, 2016

No Harm

We all have role in fight against LGBT discrimination

Written by: Jack Markell, governor of Delaware and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. 

MY Note: I found this editorial on the CNN web site.  It is very concise and states well the facts and problem with NC HB 2.  By now we have likely read and lamented way to much over this issue.  However my reason for including this; it has realities that we can share with friends and colleagues.   Most of the article is quoted below but to read the whole article use the above link. 

(CNN) The story of America, at its best, is one of an ever-widening circle of inclusion, with each generation showing a greater openness to communities once excluded. But recent efforts to marginalize certain people and groups, specifically transgender and gender-nonconforming people, are an affront to America's inclusiveness.

While opponents of transgender equality stoke fears around bathrooms, the reality is that allowing transgender people access to restrooms -- without fear of discrimination or harassment -- doesn't hurt anyone. An investigation of 12 states and 17 school districts with protections for LGBT people found no increase in incidences of harassment or inappropriate behavior after those protections were enacted.

The Governor of the state of Delaware, Jack Markell, stated:

"Where transgender people can fully participate in society, including by using facilities in accordance with their gender identities, the only consequences have been that transgender people know Delaware is a safe and welcoming place, and businesses know we foster talent and skills among all our residents. That should be the case for every person, in every state."

Many of the restrictions on the rights of transgender people are played out in our public schools. While most schools have policies against bullying and harassment, most of these policies don't specifically include protections based on gender identity or expression. Transgender students report high levels of harassment, bullying and assault.

So-called bathroom bills will make an already vulnerable group even less secure, which has been shown to lead to students missing classes, under performing academically and dropping out of school. About 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT.

Most important, discrimination against transgender people can be a matter of life or death. More than half of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who were bullied, harassed or assaulted in school because of their gender identity have attempted suicide, according to a recent survey. Respondents reported attempting suicide at a rate much larger than the national average. 

According to surveys, 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population has self-reported a suicide attempt, with that number climbing to between 10 and 20 percent for lesbian, gay or bisexual respondents. By comparison, 41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.

But as Martin Luther King Jr. cautioned, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We cannot legislate tolerance and acceptance. But we can pass laws and policies that prohibit discrimination, and, as history has shown, attitudes will begin to shift.

We all have a role to play when a segment of society is being treated unfairly. There is a growing understanding that existing sex discrimination laws protect LGBT people from bigotry, which is why the Department of Justice informed North Carolina that it was in violation of federal law. But governors, mayors and other elected leaders can lead the way in enacting anti-discrimination laws like Delaware's that explicitly protect LGBT people.

Transgender people are our neighbors, friends, co-workers and children. More than anything else, they are people first, worthy of dignity and respect. It is time our communities and our country take another step forward and affirm that "We the People" means all of us, without exception.

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