Students to advocate for LGBT rights

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The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community is planning an advocacy day in Jefferson City to fight for civil rights.

On Feb. 29, students along with leaders of PROMO, an organization that stands for LGBTQ rights and has a chapter here in Missouri, will go to Jefferson City to advocate two pieces of legislation. According to Dr. David Tushaus, professor of legal studies and PRIDE’s advisor, the bills that students will be discussing with legislators include civil rights legislation and the Safe Schools Act.

“Students will be advocating a civil rights piece of legislation that already exists,” Tushaus said.“This will make it against the law for employers to fire someone for being a member of the LGBTQ community.”

The second piece of legislation is to help strengthen the Missouri Safe School Act, Tushaus said.

“This piece of legislation will include a list of groups to be concerned about in terms of bullying,” Tushaus said. “The LGBTQ is a particular and vulnerable group in our K-12 schools.”

Laura Beal, president of PRIDE, said that this advocacy day is very important for all students, and not just for the LGBTQ community. She believes that if it’s not this issue that they are fighting for, something will come up one day that students will want to advocate for or against.

“We want all students to go; there will always be issues that come up that you will want a voice in,” Beal said. “It just so happens that this issue is towards the LGBTQ community, and they are ready for their voice to be heard.”

The PRIDE organization and the Legal Studies Association have been working to gain student involvement for students to go to Jefferson City to voice their concerns on this issue. Student Victoria Coursen said that no one should be judged for who they are and believes that legislators should listen to the students.

“I have friends that are gay, and why should they be treated any different?” Coursen said. “They still can do the job no matter who they want to have relations with. That kind of thing doesn’t affect work performance.”

Tushaus said he feels that students could have an influence on some legislators, even though the legislatures in Missouri are predominantly conservative.

“You have to keep pushing for equal rights,” Tushaus said.“You have to keep going back to the well to get to the place you want, and then maybe we will get to them to understand our concerns.”

The concern Beal feels is that students don’t believe they can make a difference. She said students can complain all they want, but if they don’t voice their concerns, nothing can get done.

“Most college students don’t think they can go somewhere like Jeff City and make a difference,” Beal said. “However, going and speaking to your legislators is a start, and if enough of us take part then maybe we can make a difference.”

Dr. Tushaus said that he asking students to still take part in the advocacy day on Wednesday, Feb 29. Interested students should contact him at 816-271-5627.

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