ToBGLAD: Guest speakers, students stress importance of activism

The Newtonite

by Hilary Brumberg

To promote equality and acceptance of the LGBTQ community, members of the Gay-Straight Alliance and two guest professionals spoke in the first-ever activism panel D-block yesterday in the auditorium during Transgender Bisexual Gay Lesbian Awareness Day.

GSA members junior Amelia Goldstein and freshman Leah Budson began the presentation by listing activist groups that focus on LGBTQ issues.

The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth is one of the first and longest-running youth-led adult-supported LGBTQ organizations in the nation, according to Budson.

Members of the Gay Lesbian Student Education Network, another organization focusing on LGBTQ rights, work to ensure safe schools for all students, despite their sexual orientations, Budson said.

Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere is “a really good organization to know about because there are more than 2.3 million kids in the United States who have gay or lesbian parents,” she said.

Goldstein explained that the Asexual Visibility and Education Network works to promote the rights of people who are not sexually attracted to any gender or sex. The organization offers support for asexuals, friends of asexual and people who are questioning whether they are asexual.

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s mission is to education the public about transgender issues through teaching classes and training leaders, Goldstein said.

The members of the GSA then turned the floor over to the two guest professionals.

Executive director of Family Equality Council Jennifer Chrisler, who is a Newton parent, highlighted that the last four years have been especially critical for the LGBTQ rights movement.

In that time period, a hate crimes bill was passed that mentions sexual orientation and gender identity as potential target groups; Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed; and marriage equality has come to eight states. “Those are things I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” Chrisler said.

Vicky Henry, a senior staff attorney at Gay and Lesbian Advocates (GLAD), explained the different ways people can be activists.

One way people can make a difference in the community is to make “a lot of money, and then donate it to an organization like GLAD,” Henry said.

She also suggested methods of verbal activism. “If you hear something mean, intervene,” she rhymed. “If it’s ignorant, say something. If you can do it with humor, do it.”

Members of the GSA concluded the presentation by urging audience members to “take a stand, take action, make things right.”