→CLICK HERE to add your name to the #Vision4Equality and show support for advancing true equality and justice in South Carolina and throughout the country!
We Are Family (WAF) is one of the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) nonprofit organizations in South Carolina, and one of few resources in the state dedicated to providing direct services and support for youth. We envision a South Carolina where every LGBTQ young person has what they need to not just survive, but to thrive.
Right now, a life of safety and dignity is being pushed out of reach for far too many LGBTQ young people in our state. We are committed to working to achieve a vision for equality for South Carolina – one that centers the needs and experiences of LGBTQ young people and their families.
We must address the epidemic of homelessness that is impacting LGBTQ young people who are turned away by loved ones or who leave home in fear of rejection. We must advocate for appropriate funding and resources for agencies that serve homeless youth and work to ensure that all youth have a safe home to go to at the end of the day.
Many of the issues facing the general LGBTQ population are even worse for people of color. LGBTQ people of color are more likely to live in poverty and to experience physical violence. True justice for LGBTQ people can’t be achieved if some of us are not liberated. We must continually look at the ways that structural racism play into and exacerbate inequality.
We must each be able to express who we are and present ourselves as we see fit and as best represents our true selves without judgment or limitation. We must each define our own identities and tell our own stories.
We should be able to form relationships, build families, and find love and community without attack or stigma. Our families should be respected and treated equally under the law, regardless of where we live. People should not face harassment and violence because of who they are or who they love.
Each person should have access to quality education at all age levels, and that education should be provided without bullying or violence. We must also look at how anti-bullying polices hurt people more than they help by feeding into the school-to-prison pipeline.
We should also ensure that school curricula is inclusive of a full range of voices and experiences and that young people get the information they need to make healthy, informed decisions about sex and relationships.
We should all be able to make ends meet by ensuring that we are hired, fired and promoted based on our skills and experiences without fear of discrimination. We need access to safe workplaces with fair policies where we can make a living wage and are provided with benefits such as paid sick leave and affordable health insurance.
We should each be able to afford to see a health professional when we need care and to not have our age or income be an issue. The services should be culturally competent and provided without judgment. Whether it is care related to gender confirmation, sexual health, or other essential primary and preventative care, we all need to be able to seek the care we need without barriers based on finances, inequity or other obstacles.
We should each be able to move freely through the public spaces of our state without barriers or discrimination – to be able to access public facilities without disrespect or discrimination, to use the bathrooms or locker rooms that are appropriate for each of us without harassment, and to have the same rights and access as anyone else.
There is no justice as long as transgender people of color fear for their lives. We must not only address anti-LGBTQ violence, but also ensure that the voices and leadership of those who are most marginalized are centered.
Each person should be able to shape the policies that impact our lives. Our vote is our chance to have a say in who makes key decisions about our health, our families and our lives. We should work to eliminate unnecessary and unjust barriers from felony disenfranchisement to voter ID and to expand access to opportunities through the improved ability to register and exercise the right to vote.
We must push back against our broken justice system, which criminalizes poverty and addiction, brutalizes people of color, and feeds into mass incarceration. It is essential that we also look at reforming our country’s broken immigration system that tears families apart and denies the humanity of undocumented people. LGBTQ people experience significant abuse in the detention and deportation process.
We need to oppose attempts to utilize a claim of religious liberty to deny people equal protection under the law or access to services or public spaces. So-called religious freedom laws and legislation are about pushing an agenda and using some people’s personal beliefs to withhold equal access and protection.
Beyond any specific ask for change that comes from a law or regulation or any policy, we are committed to cultural change to: ensure true equality for LGBTQ people of all ages, raise awareness about the gender binary that limits us all and results in discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people, confront ableism and prejudice against people with disabilities, and works to dismantle white supremacy.
To ensure that we each can find a place for ourselves, make a life for ourselves and be ourselves requires that we each make a commitment not just to the beauty and power of this vision, but also to the active and engaged work that it will require to achieve it. I am adding my voice today to show support for advancing true equality and justice. Click HERE to sign on to the #Vision4Equality.