An update from the statewide LGBT equality organization that makes sure our voices are heard and our rights are upheld.
We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years. In fact, 10 years ago we were just recovering from a legal ban on our right to marry the ones we love. We may be on the cusp of marriage equality, but there’s so much more!
LGBT Ohioans still don’t have basic protections against discrimination, and it has been challenging working with the legislature to get those protections.
At the same time, we’ve enjoyed many successes: We have been able to head off bans on same-sex adoption and Religious Freedom Restoration Acts.
As the Supreme Court continues to deliberate on marriage equality, we still have work to do in Ohio to achieve both legal and lived equality. So I want to give you an update on the work going on across the state and how you can get involved.
Ending Bullying in Our Schools
Many schools in Ohio use “model policies” that are drafted by legal and policy experts. One of the most commonly used suppliers of these model policies – NEOLA – has recently added (or enumerated) sexual orientation and transgender identity as one of the most common characteristics that are frequently associated with bullying.
This change will allow many schools that use NEOLA’s policies to address bullying based on sexual orientation
and gender identity specifically.
Unfortunately, the Ohio Department of Education’s model policy has no such list of characteristics which makes invisible what we know to be true: That LGBT youth are targeted. This continues to be an area of concern.
Reparative Therapy and The Memory of Leelah Alcorn Leelah Alcorn committed suicide on December 28th, 2014. The story became national when her blog automatically updated with a suicide note. It was clear in her note that so-called reparative therapy was a large contributing factor – treatment that tried to “change” Leelah’s deeply held belief that she was female, and not male.
Leelah’s words speak for themselves.
My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s fucked up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.
We heard her call. Reparative therapy for minors is against licensed therapists’ code of ethics, though still technically legal. We are working to eliminate the impact of this harmful practice.
Standing with Scouts for Equality
Brian Peffly was an assistant Scoutmaster with Ohio Troop 192. He reached the Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank a Scout can earn. Brian is also gay.
On March 13th, 2015 Boy Scouts of America terminated his membership. It’s very clear retaliation for Brian being out as a Scout.
Equality Ohio joined with Scouts for Equality, ACLU of Ohio, and the Human Rights Campaign to stand up with Brian to protect the right to Scout without discrimination. We all know that his local chapter should live up to their own policy, stand with Brian and stand up to the national Boy Scouts of America by bringing Brian back.
We stand with Brian Peffly. To learn more and sign our petition, visit StandWithBrian.org.
Work Around The State
In Cleveland, Equality Ohio is an active partner in Cleveland Advocates for Transgender Equality. We are working with local activists to make Cleveland’s existing nondiscrimination ordinance trans*inclusive. The work is not done. The trans*inclusive measure (1446-13) still needs to be passed. To be a part of lifting up this local legislation, contact Nicole@equalityohio.org.
In Bexley (near Columbus), Equality Ohio has been working closely with City Councilperson Deneese Owen to make Bexley one of the most inclusive cities in Ohio. That work caught the eye of Grandview Heights, and they are now making similar progress. To volunteer in Columbus, contact Vashitta@equalityohio.org.
See You Out There
We are excited about marriage equality. And, we know that Ohio has a continued, strategic path to reach lived equality. Let’s leverage our best activist energy that we’ve demonstrated for marriage and keep moving the needle of change forward in Ohio. (Fortunately, if there’s one thing we’ve proven in the last decade, it’s that we have plenty of that energy to go around and we can sustain this effort.)
Kim Welter has been recently promoted to Deputy Director after serving as the Director of Programs and Outreach at Equality Ohio, and briefly as interim Executive Director. With over five years of experience within the organization, she is Equality Ohio’s most seasoned staff member. She joined the organization in 2008 after serving as the Executive Director of Equality Toledo for over 2 years. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she got her secondary teaching certificate through the University of Findlay and her Master of Arts and Education from the University of Toledo where she taught composition for 3 years. Kim is a 2009/2010 graduate of the Center for Progressive Leadership and serves on the Advisory Board for the Progressive Majority. In 2010, Kim took a leave of absence from Equality Ohio to serve as Campaign Manager for the ONE Bowling Green Campaign in Bowling Green, Ohio, which successfully defended two local non-discrimination ordinances from a ballot initiative to repeal.