On Friday, HRC, GLSEN, PFLAG, The Trevor Project and True Colors Fund held a congressional briefing on issues impacting LGBTQ youth. This briefing was the culmination of the 2017 LGBTQ Youth Policy Lobby Day, where more than 60 youth-serving professionals, LGBTQ youth, and parents of LGBTQ youth met with nearly 100 congressional offices to lobby on issues impacting LGBTQ young people. More than 40 staff attended the briefing.
The briefing began with introductions from three LGBTQ young people: Josh Deese and HRC Youth Ambassadors Jazz Jennings and Paolo Veloso. Deese, Jennings and Veloso spoke about a broad range of issues, including transgender visibility, discrimination at school, bullying, homelessness and bi erasure. They also spoke about how intersecting marginalized identities can compound experiences of discrimination.
Following the young people’s remarks, five policy experts from the sponsoring organizations presented on legislative responses to these issues. These experts included Jennifer Pike Bailey, Senior Public Policy Advocate at HRC; Nathan Smith, Director of Public Policy at GLSEN; Beth Kohm, Interim Executive Director of PFLAG; Steve Mendelsohn, Interim Executive Director at the Trevor Project; and Justin Rush, Director of Public Policy at True Colors Fund.
Some of the legislation that the policy experts focused on, included:
- Anti-bullying legislation, such as the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act. The Safe Schools Improvement Act would require public K-12 schools to have enumerated anti-bullying policies including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, national origin, sex, disability and religion. The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act would require colleges and universities to have enumerated anti-harassment policies including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as race, color, national origin, sex, disability and religion.
- The Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity across key areas of life, including employment, housing, credit, education, public spaces and services, federally funded programs and jury service.
- The Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit public schools from discriminating against any student on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- The Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, which would officially classify conversion therapy as a fraudulent practice and direct the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers from these harmful practices.
- Funding critical programs for LGBTQ youth, including programs addressing youth homelessness, HIV, sex education and civil rights enforcement.