Transgender activist Sarah McBride is running for the Delaware Senate in 2020.

The 28-year-old Wilmington native announced Tuesday morning she will try to replace Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North, who is retiring at the end of his term.

McBride rose to national prominence in 2016 when she became the first openly transgender person to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

Long involved in politics, she is the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group in the U.S. She plans to stay in that position part-time during her campaign, but would leave to be a full-time legislator if she wins, she said.

McBride first made headlines in 2012, when she came out publicly as transgender at the end of her term as American University student body president.

A transgender person identifies as a different gender than the one they were identified as having at birth. For example, someone who was born female but identifies as a man would qualify as transgender man.

Transgender lawmakers have been elected to other state legislatures, including Virginia's, in recent years.

"I don't intend on serving as a transgender state senator," McBride said. "I intend on serving as a senator who happens to be transgender."

McBride has previously worked for former Gov. Jack Markell and the late Attorney General Beau Biden.

For many in Legislative Hall, McBride is a familiar face. She advocated for passage of the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act, which Markell signed into law in 2013.

She's recently rallied with the local branch of Moms Demand Action, a group pushing for stricter gun laws in Delaware in the wake of mass shootings across the country.

Her Senate bid will likely focus on issues such as health care, paid family leave and criminal justice reform.

"Policies that impact people the most are handled at the state level," McBride told The News Journal. "That's where I believe I can make the most difference.

McDowell is retiring after more than four decades of lawmaking.

North Carolina has seen widespread support for the progress of the LGBTQ community.

A poll from Public Policy Polling conducted in June, which was declared Pride Month by Governor Roy Cooper, shows that 67 percent of voters in North Carolina support legislation that protect the rights of LGBTQ people.

Director of Public Policy Polling Tom Jensen says it is one of the few issues that voters across the aisle tend to agree upon.

“We talk so much on so many issues about how polarized the state is and how Democrats and Republicans have completely opposite views about pretty much everything under the sun,” says Jensen. “We found on the issue of these laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination that Democrats by 65 points, Independents by 57 points and Republicans by 18 points all support those kinds of laws.”

Still, a disconnect between what voters want and what party leadership actually does has kept a lot of this legislation from being passed.

Jensen says this can be seen particularly among Republicans, and it may not change until their constituents start to vote differently.

“I think the point at which you would actually see Republican politicians really change their behavior on that kind of stuff is if they start losing primaries because of it,” says Jensen.

The poll can be found in full at publicpolicypolling.com

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 22 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that federal anti-discrimination laws should protect LGBTQ+ employees.

The coalition, led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York Attorney General Letitia James, is filing the brief in three cases pending before the court that involve workers fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal,” said Connors in a news release. “Hawaii stands in support of the LGBTQ+ community and will continue to safeguard their rights.”

In their brief, the coalition argues that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination against transgender people based on sex stereotyping or their gender identity, or on the basis of sexual orientation.

The cases, which are being considered together, include Altitude Express v. Zarda; Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC.

Two of the cases, Altitude Express v. Zarda and Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, involve employees who were terminated from their jobs after their employers learned they were gay.

The third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, involves a transgender woman who was fired after she asked her employer for permission to dress in accordance with her gender identity.

Employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity increases the already high rates of prejudice LGBTQ+ people experience at work, the coalition said, as well harassment in the workplace — from denial of jobs and promotions to physical and sexual assault.

The attorneys general also argued that discrimination against LGBTQ+ employees impedes states’ ability to promote equality and protect residents’ dignity, economic security and mental health. Discrimination against LGBTQ+ workers also has an economic impact on states because many are forced to rely on public assistance programs when denied the ability to support themselves.

The coalition is made up of the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

 

General Motors Co. is among more than 200 corporations that joined a new legal brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a separate filing, former Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Schwartz and Michigan GOP operative Greg McNeilly signed onto a brief with more than 30 high-profile Republicans, telling the court that the "plain language" of the law protects against discrimination toward gay or transgender workers.

Both briefs include a Michigan case to be argued this fall before the justices involving R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, which fired an employee in 2013 after she announced she was transitioning from male to female.  

The funeral home, which asked the high court to hear the case, has argued that an appeals court ruling that sided with the transgender employee, Aimee Stephens, last year "threatens freedom of conscience." 

The businesses' brief, announced Tuesday by a coalition of five LGBTQ rights groups, is being submitted to the Supreme Court this week ahead of oral arguments before the justices on Oct. 8 on three cases that may determine whether gays, lesbians and transgender people are protected from discrimination by existing federal civil rights laws.

Among the other 206 corporations endorsing the brief were Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, Domino’s Pizza, Goldman Sachs, IBM, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Nike, Starbucks, Viacom, the Walt Disney Co. and Xerox. Two major league baseball teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Tampa Bay Rays, were included.

Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, which served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement.

recent survey by The Trevor Project reveals that nearly 1-in-5 LGBTQ young people attempted suicide in the last year. For more than two decades, The Trevor Project has worked to end the long-running crisis, offering emergency counseling by phone, text and chat. More than 200,000 calls and messages come in every year.

Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, says that while a lot of progress has been made since Stonewall, there's still a lot of work to be done.

"What concerns me the most is still the discrimination and the sense of isolation that so many LGBTQ young people feel across the country," Paley said. His company's survey found that 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year – a statistic he describes as "heartbreaking and unacceptable in 2019."

Paley, who has spent eight years volunteering on the phone lines, said a common topic is "a sense of fear, of what will happen if they ever reveal to someone who they really are, and who they really love."

That's been especially true since Trump's presidency, Paley said. "The day after the 2016 presidential election, our call volume at The Trevor Project more than doubled in a 24-hour period of time," he added.  "When the president tweeted that transgender people would be banned from the military, we saw trans and nonbinary youth reaching out to us in record numbers."   

"Words really matter," he said. "We talk a lot about the policies, policies and laws protect people, but when people in positions of power use hateful words, young people hear that and it makes them feel like they are less than or not deserving of love and respect."

And despite the fact that so many people have spoken out about their orientation in recent years, many young people still feel alone in 2019, he said.

"Not everyone sees that message. And we have to remember that there are young people across the country. If you're a young trans person in rural North Dakota, you might see on TV that there's a lot of acceptance," he said. "But then you look around your community, and if you don't see any openly LGBTQ people, if your faith community is not supporting you, if your school is not allowing you to use the restroom that corresponds with your gender identity, you're gonna feel like people won't accept you. And that can lead to that sense of isolation, and feelings of wanting to kill yourself."

Part of the problem, Paley said, is conversion therapy, which he describes as "the completely discredited and dangerous practice of trying to forcibly change your sexual orientation or gender identity." Conversion therapy is still legal in 32 states, Paley said, and The Trevor Project estimates that 700,000 people who have undergone it the country.

Going through conversion therapy "puts you at a much higher risk of suicide," Paley added. "So we need to stop that in every state in this country."

If a young person comes out, Paley said that the most important thing for parents to do is to "come from a place of love … if you come from a place of 'this is my child, and I love them no matter what and I will support them,' it's very hard to go wrong." 

For immediate help if you are in a crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidentia

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