10 WAYS TO TAKE ACTION NOW TO PROTECT QUEER RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR QUEER JUSTICE
1. Tell your Members of Congress to support the Equality Act. This landmark legislation has been reintroduced and championed by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and over 200 other Members of Congress who believe in the need for true equality for LGBTQIA people under the law; this is the most support pro-LGBTQIA legislation has ever received in Congress. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system. This is not a new piece of legislation; it was first introduced in 1974, and like the Equal Rights Amendment, it’s only gotten better and more urgent with age. Read the 2017 legislation here. Call your Members of Congress at (202) 224-3121.
2. Familiarize yourself with and share Know Your Rights resources. Our political climate has left too many rights—and communities—at risk at the local, state and federal levels. Laws can vary greatly. This excellent Know Your Rights resource from Lambda Legal provides a comprehensive guide for the LGBTQIA community. We also recommend great resources from the National Immigrant Law Center (NILC) on immigration and from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on what to do when being stopped by law enforcement. Our undocumented queer community is particularly at risk of violence, harrassment, or deportation- we stand with all immigrants seeking refuge in the United States, including those seeking asylum due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
3. Demand criminal justice reform for our communities. LGBTQIA people face disproportionate risk of violence and abuse in the criminal justice and prison systems. Countering systemic issues regarding criminal justice takes many forms. Fight deportations of those seeking asylum due to their identities; call your local counties to demand bail reform; share resources for reporting hate crimes anonymously. Call on local law enforcement to undergo sensitivity trainings and amend their practices to support, not harm, local queer residents, particularly queer and trans people of color. Donate to and participate in actions with local organizations who focus on intersectional criminal justice work. Submit op-eds addressing these issues to local and national media—getting media attention is key to getting elected officials to focus on the issues your community faces.
3. Center the voices and stories of queer people whose lived experiences include discrimination based on their identities. Share stories conscientiously that focus primarily on first-hand accounts, especially of those who are from marginalized communities. Include names, not just numbers, of people who have lost their lives due to hate crimes. Call out media for tokenizing or exploiting experiences of people who face discrimination.
4. Stand up for people in your community who are most at risk. The National LGBT Task Force offers fantastic tools, trainings and ways to take action if you are looking to go from marching to serving as an advocate.
5. Help reduce stigmas and barriers relating to health, such as those surrounding sexually transmitted diseases, sexual health in the queer community, and mental illness. Some aspects of healthcare access impact the queer community differently. Issues like getting health insurance to cover hormone treatments or gender affirmation surgery, or screenings for certain types of cancer, can be real barriers. Similarly, while so much progress has been made, HIV and AIDS still carry enormous stigmas which impact people’s access to prevention resources, testing, and treatment. Support the #UEqualsU campaign and other efforts to break down stigmas and refocus the conversation on facts, not fear. Organizations like AIDS United offer invaluable resources on healthcare access and health recommendations.
6. Donate to legal service providers who represent people fighting for their rights and their lives in court. Incredible organizations like Lambda Legal and the Transgender Law Center are critical resources for queer people who need legal protection and assistance. They also fight for our rights in the highest courts and advocate for advancing equality under the law.
7. Call out and speak out against use of slurs and hateful language and acts of bullying. This may seem like a no-brainer to many of us, but people of all ages still use hurtful and discriminatory language, and calling attention to it and starting a conversation is key to holding people accountable. Words don’t just hurt—they can be deadly if someone is suicidal or at risk of violence. All states have different anti-bullying legislation; as of yet, there is no federal legislation that directly addresses anti-bullying measures. See organizations like The Trevor Project, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, It Gets Better Project, and The Matthew Shepard Foundation for resources regarding bullying and the LGBTQIA community.
8. Are you a student or an educator? Help advocate acceptance and forward-thinking policies in your education community and beyond. Join or start a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) or LGBT rights group at your school or call on administrators to improve their LGBT rig. GLSEN has some great tools and ideas to get you engaged. Looking for youth empowerment organizations? Youth-run organizations like SMYAL provide great tools to take action.
9. Know and recognize signs of crisis or suicide and offer resources to help. The Trevor Project offers comprehensive resources. Each year, over 34,000 people die by suicide in the United States—it’s the third leading cause of death in 15 to 24 year olds, and queer people are up to 5 times more at risk. If you or a loved one is in crisis, please know that you are not alone and there is help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or 866-488-7386 for The Trevor Project or 1-800-799-4889 for TTY for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
10. Finally, share your story and talk to other people about issues that matter to you and impact you. Mentorship and person-to-person conversations are some of the most powerful tools for change out there. Support groups are critical. Sharing your story to empower others is critical. Changing people's minds is critical. Looking for resources on shifting queer narratives? This list is one place to start.
These are just some of the many actions you can take to continue the fight for justice.