Editorial

Rejecting discrimination: Rhode Island stands against anti-LGBTQ legislation

Rhode Island legislators are introducing bills targeting LGBTQ people, especially transgender and non-binary youth. Local organizations and advocates unite to condemn these attacks and affirm their commitment to protecting the well-being of LGBTQ Rhode Islanders and their loved ones.

Rhode Island News: Rejecting discrimination: Rhode Island stands against anti-LGBTQ legislation

March 29, 2023, 1:45 pm

By Uprise RI Staff

In an open letter shared with State House leadership today, Rhode Island LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters urged legislators to reject several proposals that will introduce harmful discrimination into state law, particularly directed at LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color. Three of those proposals, H5859, H5688, and H5739, will have hearings this afternoon in the House Committee on Education.

The full letter from advocates follows below:

An Open Letter to Rhode Island State House Leadership:

There is a sweeping campaign of attacks across the country targeting LGBTQ people and especially transgender and non-binary young people. Now, a few Rhode Island legislators are attempting to bring these harmful and discriminatory bills to our State House. We represent a coalition of local organizations and advocates joining together to condemn these attacks and affirm our commitment to protecting the well-being of LGBTQ people and their loved ones in Rhode Island.

We call on Rhode Island’s legislators to reject shameful measures, including H 5859, 5688, H 5499, H 5756, H 5739, S 0179, S 0186, S 0352, S 0391, S 0414, and S 0487 which seek to limit our rights and freedoms. 

The bills introduced in Rhode Island focus largely on schools and young people, a strategy played out in other states to create moral panic under the banner of ‘protect the children’. We’ve already seen real-world examples of how bills like these are hurting young people in states like Florida and New Hampshire. They are causing teachers to stop addressing anti-LGBTQ and racist bullying out of fear, erasing LGBTQ+ students and families from the classroom, and banishing books that can provide important stories for students as they figure out who they are.

We should all be able to agree that a strong partnership between Rhode Island parents, schools, and youth is important to ensuring all students can learn in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment. Research shows that an inclusive and welcoming environment creates better educational outcomes for all students. Rhode Island has long been a leader in supporting all students through its inclusive practices. The evidence is in. We know that we can successfully support our transgender and non-transgender students under existing law.

We know that the bills being introduced in Rhode Island are modeled on legislation being pushed in other states by organized groups dedicated to discriminating against transgender and LGBQ people, and imposing their singular vision for public life across the country. We know that these outside actors, including some designated as extremist or hate groups, are not motivated by the best interests of Rhode Islanders. We know that these outside actors are not motivated by our state’s long history of protecting the humanity and equality of LGBTQ people. The legislators introducing these proposals in Rhode Island, knowingly or not, have bought into the false stories that seek to demonize the LGBTQ community, disrupt our schools, and distract our government’s attention with these non-issues.

Most alarmingly, the groups pushing these harmful bills across the country are continually raising the stakes. This month, we have seen the evidence that their ‘protect the children’ crusade is only the starting point. They recognize that it is the easiest path to rally support for measures that will roll back rights we all currently enjoy. Some of these actors have gone so far as saying their ultimate goal is the complete erasure of transgender people from public life.

It can be hard to understand what it is like to be an LGBTQ person. But, we long ago agreed as a state that LGBTQ people should be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. We urge our legislators to reaffirm Rhode Island’s values, reject these dangerous proposals, and ensure that our state motto of Hope continues to apply to everyone.

The letter was signed by over 180 Rhode Island individuals and the following community organizations:

  • Thundermist Health Center
  • ACLU of Rhode Island
  • Youth Pride, Inc.
  • TGI Network of RI
  • Haus of Codec
  • Sojourner House
  • Pride in Aging
  • Rhode Island Queer PAC
  • Gender and Sexuality Center, University of Rhode Island
  • Project Weber/RENEW
  • LGBTQ Action RI
  • Newport Pride
  • COYOTE RI
  • SHIP
  • The Womxn Project
  • Women’s Resource Center
  • GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
  • American Academy of Pediatrics, Rhode Island Chapter
  • RI Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians
  • Rhode Island Public Health Institute
  • Open Door Health
  • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
  • Community Care Alliance
  • East Greenwich Pediatrics
  • Washington County Health Equity Zone
  • Rhode Island Student Assistance Services
  • Washington County Coalition for Children
  • Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights
  • Rhode Island Democratic Women’s Caucus
  • Rhode Island Center for Justice
  • Rhode Island NOW
  • Rhode Island Atheists
  • Ryder | Talbutt Group
  • Radically Thrive Therapy
  • Newport Partnership for Families
  • Little Maven Lemonade
  • FabNewport, Inc.
  • FABx

Read the letter and full list of signers here.


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