As the U.S. enters another frenetic and prolonged presidential election, it is worth taking note of the positions that elected officials, and those seeking office at every level of government hold related to LGBTQ health and well-being. Regardless of your location in the U.S. or perhaps another country that is also embroiled in ongoing political struggle to secure the rights of LGBGQ people and families, it is time to reflect on what actions are possible to participate in bringing about full human rights for everyone in our communities.
A recent example of such action came gained broad public attention, and provides an excellent and inspiring instance that is worth noting. Early in the Obama administration, they set up a web-based portal called “We the People” for anyone to submit a petition to draw attention issues that the U.S. government should notice. Of course there are many petitions that never gain traction, or that deserve to be ignored. Others are quite noteworthy, such as the petition to enact “Leelah’s Law.” This petition was published on January 3, 2015, seeking help from the Administration to ban the devastatingly harmful “therapies” known as conversion, or reparative approaches that claim to “cure” people of sexual and gender identities that do not fall within the traditional binary, heterosexual expectations. The petition was titled “Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban All LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy.” The law commemorates the life and death of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old transgender youth who wrote a suicide note, posted it on Tumblr and then walked in front of a semi-truck to end her life. Leelah’s parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy in an attempt to change her gender identity. The petition was signed by over 120,000 people. The administration responded supporting this ban, and expressed their position that resources for LGBTQ+ youth , their family and friends are a priority. Click here to see the petition and the administration’s response.
This petition, and the administration’s response has given rise to a growing movement in the U.S. to take this kind of legislative action. The list of current actions, even though most are in the very early stages of the political process, is quite impressive. You can follow these actions on the NCLR web site here, and follow the #BornPerfect campaign to end conversion therapies.
We may feel discouraged and frustrated with what seems to be “little we can do,” but this is not an excuse for taking the cowardly path to do nothing. It is time to make a commitment to be well-informed of the issues that affect the well-being of our LGBTQ communities, know the public officials at every level who support us, and take every action possible to make sure they act on our behalf. Choose an issue that you care about, find an organization and other individuals to join in taking action, and seek the changes you envision!