Protecting Trans Youth!

This past Friday, the US Department of Justice issued a policy letter on transgender students and school life. The guide addresses such topics as name and pronoun use, confidentiality, harassment, participation in sports and the application of dress codes. It is implemented in all K-12 schools, preschools, colleges and universities that receive federal funding.

There was immediate opposition here in Louisiana from many of the forces that stand arrayed against equality and justice for all. Transgender youth are already at a greater risk of experiencing bullying, harassment, and even violence in schools. And statements issued by BESE President Jim Garvey and the 32 Louisiana legislators exacerbates those risks by creating a hostile environment in one of the places they should feel the safest.

We appeal to the leaders and people of Louisiana to respect the equal dignity of all people, including those apart of our transgender community.

The truth is it is already illegal for anyone to go to a bathroom to harm someone or to invade their privacy. Transgender people face hostility, harassment and bullying as a result of baseless inflammatory allegations; these barriers explain in part the extraordinarily high attempted suicide rate.

Schools should be a safe space for students to learn. Instead of ostracizing or bullying students because of their differences, we should be providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students to reach their potential. The guidance from the Department of Justice will go a long way to making sure they can.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Success in the Senate!

In a vote of 2 to 1, the Senate Judiciary B committee voted to move the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act forward. With this success today, we must and will continue to push forward.

Discrimination is not a Louisiana value and we are proud that the committee agrees that Louisiana law must forbid all forms of discrimination.

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Senator JP Morrell is a vanguard and champion for equality. We thank him for authoring the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, and appreciate his continued leadership on behalf of the LGBT community statewide.

Next up, the bill heads for a vote before the full Senate. Stay tuned, we will keep you updated!

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act heads to Senate Committee!

The Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, SB 332 authored by Sen. JP Morrell, will be heard at the Tuesday, May 10th hearing of the Senate Judiciary B Committee.

This comprehensive bill will help bring fairness to Louisiana statutes by:

  • Adding “age”, “sex” and/or “disability” to over 40 Louisiana non-discrimination statute provisions currently missing those terms from the lists of personal characteristics protected from unlawful discriminatory practices. Areas of protection include housing, higher education, income tax credits, real estate activities, insurance, and licensure of counselors, social workers, rehabilitation counselors, nurses and others.
  • Adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the lists of personal characteristics protected from unlawful discriminatory practices in the fields of employment, housing, education, finance and public accommodations.

This bill doesn’t create ‘new’ law. Rather, it would make a large number of minor fixes to existing law to ensure fairness for all Louisianians.

We need you to send an email to the members of the Senate Judiciary B Committee asking for their yes vote.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane E. Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Support the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act!

We are almost halfway through the Louisiana legislative session. Forum for Equality is moving forward with the Louisiana Nondiscrimination Act (LANA). This bill, authored by Representative Patricia Smith and designated as HB501, will protect LGBT people living and working in Louisiana from discrimination in housing, employment, and accommodations.

Here’s what you need to know about LANA:

It updates over 60 existing nondiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, as well as 40 existing laws to include age, sex and disability.

LANA doesn’t create any new laws. Rather, it would make a large number of small yet incredibly important updates to existing law. Additionally, LANA seeks to define “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” for the first time within Louisiana law.

No hard working American should have to live in fear that they can be fired, evicted, or denied a seat at a restaurant because of who they are or whom they love. We know this is good for Louisiana, and you do too. Now let’s tell our legislators. Click here to send an email in support of LANA to the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee.
Yours in Equality,

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

PS. Please send a strong message that you support Equality. Become a sustaining monthly donor today.

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Amended

Over the past two days we have closely monitored several bills that affect our community and successfully supported amendments to limit their potential negative impact.

Last night Rep. Mike Johnson’s amended “Pastor Protection Act” (HB 597) was passed in the House of Representatives with language strictly limiting its scope to religious leaders and organizations only. Forum for Equality believes the Pastor Protection Act is an unnecessary and redundant bill and would only serve to stigmatize the LGBT community rather than actually provide new protections for religious leaders. But, as amended, the bill poses much less of a threat to our community’s rights. HB 597 now heads to the Senate with a vote of 80-18.

This evening, Sen. JP Morrell successfully offered an amendment to Sen. Conrad Appel’s “Preemption Bill” (SB 288) ensuring that the proposed local contracting restrictions will not affect or compromise any ordinance requiring a contractor to have policies related to discrimination. Forum for Equality remains dedicated to passing inclusive local ordinances, like those in New Orleans and Shreveport, which include policies mandating that taxpayer-funded contracts do not allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. SB 288 now heads to the House of Representatives with a vote of 26-11.

We continue to guard against any backdoor efforts to add discrimination into our laws. We ask you to continue working with us towards our goal of protecting and treating all Louisianans fairly, equally and with the legal dignity and respect they deserve.

With Equality,

SarahJane

SarahJane Brady
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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Thank you, Governor JBE!

Victory_graphicThis is an historic moment for Louisiana as Governor Edwards signs an executive order protecting state employees and contractors from discrimination and harassment no matter who they are or whom they love. In going a step further, Gov. Edwards also repealed Gov. Jindal’s desperate and dangerous Marriage and Conscience executive order. This will show the nation that the State of Louisiana is an open, inclusive and competitive force in today’s economy. The Governor’s bold action is putting Louisiana first.

Louisiana is the first deep south state to have an executive order protecting LGBT state workers and contractors from discrimination, and we have Gov. Edwards to thank for it! Take a second to express your gratitude to Governor Edwards and congratulate him on this historic step forward.

Forum for Equality, with our partners Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality Louisiana, commends Gov. Edwards for taking this historic action in the fight for full equality for all Louisianans. However, thousands of LGBT Louisianans still live without these protections every day. This executive order is only one step on the path forward, and Forum for Equality looks forward to continuing to work with Gov. Edwards and the state legislature to ensure that all Louisianans have the same protections no matter where they live, work, play, or pray.
For Equality,

SarahJane E. Brady

Executive Director, Forum for Equality
PS. Celebrate this victory by supporting us to continue our work across Louisiana! Make a sustaining gift today!

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Fighting Against Discrimination

It’s hard to believe we have been in the Legislative Session for almost a month, and as you read this, LGBT people continue to be subject to unfair discrimination. Rep. Mike Johnson wants to expand discrimination with the Pastor Protection Act (HB 597) and we want you to know we are there standing arm and arm with our partners fighting back.

Rep. Mike Johnson’s bill will be heard in the House Civil Law and Procedure Committee tomorrow starting at 9:30 am. We encourage you to join us, wear red to show solidarity, and tell the committee members to vote NO on HB 597. Do not let Rep. Johnson tell the nation that discrimination is a Louisiana value.

We’ve been in Baton Rouge fighting for Louisiana to be on the right side of history. Stand with us!

With Equality,
SarahJane E. Brady
Forum for Equality, Executive Director
PS. Send us a strong message that you support Equality. Become a sustaining monthly donor today.

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