Pride 2021
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5 Ways To Stand Up For LGBTQ+ Rights This Pride Month (And Always)

Because fighting for rights is a great way to celebrate.

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Everyone knows Pride Month is a time for the LGBTQ+ community to unapologetically show up and show out for the people they love, as well as for themselves. (Honestly, even if the journey toward equity and acceptance is still a long one, it's nice to celebrate progress with a party.) But Pride Month is also an opportunity for allies to express solidarity with the community by standing in support of equity, and against continued discrimination. So, no matter how you identify, here's a list of five ways you can stand up for LGBTQ+ rights this Pride Month (and always).

Pride Month is a time to celebrate queer identity, community, and achievements, but its history is rooted in struggle. Pride Month originated with the 1969 Stonewall Uprisings, when police attempted to raid the Stonewall Inn (a popular gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village), and arrest its LGBTQ+ patrons. The crowd fought back, resulting in a rebellion that lasted for five days, from June 28, 1969 to July 3, 1969. So, the Pride Month festivities that nearly everyone is familiar with today actually started off as a fight for basic civil rights.

Although America has made important progress when it comes to equity and acceptance for the queer community since the Stonewall Uprisings, the work is far from over: As of June 1, there are at least 50 bills in over 30 states aimed at further chipping away at LGBTQ+ rights. By staying engaged and actively combating discrimination, you can help make a difference in your community.

Support LGBTQ-Inclusive Education

One of the most powerful ways to support the LGBTQ+ community is to support LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum in schools. As of May 26, five states (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas) have laws forbidding educators from discussing LGBTQ+ topics, like sexual orientation and gender expression, in a positive light. These states also have some of the highest rates of LGBTQ+-based discrimination in the country. According to a 2015 study from GLSEN, students were 75.8% “more likely to report that their classmates were somewhat or very accepting of LGBTQ people” than students in schools without LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculums. For LGBTQ+ students, this means a less hostile school climate, and a more positive learning experience overall. If you live in one of the five states forbidding the positive discussion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools, you can follow this directory to contact your elected officials and let them know you support inclusive education for all.

Advocate Against Anti-Trans Bills
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Despite making up less than 1% of the American population, the trans community faces some of the highest rates of discrimination and violence in the country. As of summer 2021, there are at least 50 anti-trans bills in the works in 33 states across the country, per Legislative Tracker. As of June 1, 13 of these bills are signed and enacted, one has passed, 22 are still in committee, five have crossed over from the House to the Senate, seven have died or failed, and two have been vetoed. In multiple states — including Arkansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee — anti-trans legislation, such as laws banning trans students from playing sports, has already been signed into law.

You can advocate against any anti-trans bills in your state by contacting your legislators and governors, and letting them know you oppose any efforts to chip away at rights for trans people. You can also get involved in grassroots organizing efforts to combat trans discrimination, and work to help the trans community from the ground up. Organizations like The Human Rights Campaign and The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) continually work to advocate for the rights of trans people through fundraising and spreading awareness.

Foster A Safe, Inclusive Environment

By fostering a safe and inclusive work, school, home, or social environment, you can ensure people who identify as LGBTQ+ feel seen, heard, and validated. Sure, this seems like a no-brainer, but it's one of the most important (and simple) aspects of supporting the LGBTQ+ community, no matter who you are. According to a 2020 study, the LGBTQ+ community continues to experience discrimination at work in the form of microaggressions, sexual harassment, and more. If your school or workplace doesn’t already have an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), you can build one yourself to combat discrimination and spread awareness. To start a GSA, you can follow the ACLU’s guide here.

At the end of the day, it’s best to follow these simple rules: Don't make any undue assumptions about gender or sexual orientation, respect people's identities, make space for LGBTQ+ people to speak openly about their experiences, don't be a jerk, and (as long as it’s safe) stand up to people who are jerks. It's really that simple!

Support Health Care Equity
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Because of discriminatory hiring practices and other factors, those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community are significantly less likely to have access to quality health care, per expert reports. Furthermore, according to the National LGBTQ Task Force, about 56% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced discrimination when seeking medical treatment — sometimes because of a lack of inclusive medical resources, and other times because of a blatant refusal to provide specific, necessary care. These are only some of the reasons why it's important to support health care equity for all, as stigma, bias, and discrimination continually prevent the LGBTQ+ community from receiving the medical treatment they deserve.

To support health care equity for all, you can donate and volunteer your time to organizations that spread awareness about discriminatory medical practices against the LGBTQ+ community, such as the National LGBTQ+ Health Education Center and the Center For American Progress.

Get Involved, And Mobilize

If you really want to catalyze meaningful change in your community, get involved in grassroots organizing — it's one of the most effective ways to reach your friends and neighbors, not just on a political level, but on a personal one. There are hundreds of local organizations in each state dedicated to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and joining one (or a few) of them can help you find the network you need to move toward progress. To find an LGBTQ+ community center near you, use CenterLink’s tool here to enter in your address, and it’ll direct you to your local resources. Whether you want to help raise money for someone’s gender confirmation surgery or you’re simply searching for a safe space to be your authentic self in, there are plenty of resources available for LGBTQ+ community members and allies.

If you’re unsure about how to spark a grassroots movement in your area, you can find tons of how-to courses online through organizations like Training for Change, the Homegirl Project, and re: power.