June is Gay Pride month – a time when Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people and their families, friends and colleagues celebrate the diversity that is LGBT culture! Almost a year ago, on June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage for same-sex couples is a constitutional right doing away with the unruly patchwork of “gay marriage states” interspersed with those that prohibited it.
Participants in last year’s Pride celebrations were joyful and exuberant sharing a feeling of relief and hope that equal rights for LGBT people would finally become reality in ALL areas of life including in the workplace (unbeknownst to many, it is still legal in in 29 U.S. states to discriminate against LGBT employees simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity).
However, what we have seen instead is a huge backlash with regards to LGBT rights:
The Human Rights Campaign, one of the foremost LGBT rights organizations in the US (www.hrc.org) reports a total of 195 anti-LGBT bills passed in 34 states in the first 2 and ½ months of this year. This backlash recently entered yet another level of intensity with 11 states suing the Federal Government over its rejection of so-called “bathroom laws” that force transgender people to use bathrooms in accordance with the gender assigned to them at birth rather than their true gender identity.
All of us - LGBT people and our straight and cisgender allies - need to stand up and speak out against inequality, hatred and bigotry in favor of equal rights and equal treatment for all.
As U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said so eloquently on May 9, 2016 when she announced the Department of Justice’s filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over its discriminatory restroom restrictions (HB2): “Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity and regard for all that make our country great.”
Show your support and seek out LGBT-related workshops at the upcoming SIETAR USA annual conference Nov. 9-12 in Tulsa OK with the perfectly fitting theme of
Intercultural Stories of Disconnection – Insights into the Polarization of People and Places.