Editor: Equality Loudoun was surprised and excited when we were contacted at the end of May by Pam Butler, chair of the Leesburg Diversity committee. The Diversity committee nominated Equality Loudoun to accept an LGBTQ Pride Month Proclamation from the Leesburg Town Council. Equality Loudoun did not ask for this recognition. It was meaningful to be recognized for our efforts to make our county more inclusive and affirming of our LGBTQ community.
Equality Loudoun re-launched in May 2017. Since then, we have advocated for the addition of gender identity and sexual orientation to LCPS policy. This passed at the end of February after almost two years of activism. That policy changes inspired us to create the #BigGayBookDrive to ensure students at LCPS have access to books in their school’s library that reflect their lived experience. We have also worked to bolster our LGBTQ community by creating social events like game nights, happy hours, and a full month of Pride events in 2018 and 2019.
You must understand that the LGBTQ community is not asking for special treatment but equal treatment. Marriage equality passed four years ago, but some fear it may be overturned. The Virginia Constitution still defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Our General Assembly in Richmond has failed to make any progress on correcting our constitution, which is in clear violation of federal law. They have also failed to put protections in policy to prevent discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing and public employment.
Leesburg Town Council member Tom Dunn wrote “Everyone is equal, identities don’t help” on the LGBTQ Pride month proclamation instead of his signature. What doesn’t help is ignoring the reality of his constituents and the discrimination they face.
I guess Leesburg Council member Tom Dunn didn’t read the report detailing how often LCPS students and staff use the N-word. Maybe he didn’t hear the story of a Loudoun youth who came out to their parents on their 18th birthday, only to be kicked out of their home. Maybe he wasn’t aware that June 12 marked three years since the Pulse nightclub shooting which took the lives of 49 people. Maybe he wasn’t aware that a “Make America Straight” event was planned in Orlando to celebrate those murders. He must also be unaware that our LGBTQ community have been the target of bias-motivated violence but are not included in Virginia’s definition of a hate crime.
Being LGBTQ right now is scary and stressful because our rights are being debated. Our Congress is discussing the Equality Act, anti-LGBTQ judges are being appointed to lifetime seats on our courts, transgender people are banned from serving in the military, religious beliefs are being used to justify discrimination in health care and public accommodation, and we are seeing an increase in violence toward our LGBTQ community.
Please join us for a Rainbows to Leesburg Rally on June 25beginning at 6 p.m. in front of the Leesburg Town Hall. Show your support for our LGBTQ community, voice your disappointment in the Leesburg Town council members (Fox, Thiel, and Dunn) who did not vote for the Pride month proclamation, and call for the resignation of Tom Dunn and Josh Thiel for writing personal opinions on official town council documents which is a violation of their ethics code.
Charlotte McConnell, Sterling
Equality Loudoun Steering Committee