Civil Rights Movement Advocacy Event Looks To Educate Public About LGBT Rights

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The Civil Rights Movement Advocacy event was hosted on Feb. 6 in Spratt 205.  David Tushaus, professor and chair of criminal justice, legal studies and social work, explained about the event before it happened.

“The meeting tomorrow is a training for anybody interested in learning how to go and advocate for something in the legislature,” Tushaus said. “Now, the training in general for that will be applicable to any kind of issue someone might want to be an advocate for.”

He explained that this event is helping people be prepared to go to Jefferson City, Mo.

“That is the equality day that this training is trying to help people get ready for. It’s a day where people from the LGBT community and people who support them, ‘called allies’, come to Jefferson City to advocate for bills that will improve the legal status of LGBT community members,” Tushaus said.

Before the presenter started to speak at the event, Tushaus gave dates of events that will also happen on campus for anyone interested in attending.

On March 2, an event will teach audience members how to heal after genocide and will be held in Kemper Recital Hall. On March 3 in Kemper Recital Hall, there will be a program called ‘Death Penalty on Trial.’ On April 24 in Spratt 206, there will be a program called ‘Marriage Equality on Campus.’

The presenter of the event was Kyle Piccola, senior field organizer of PROMO. Piccola explained during the event that PROMO is an organization that is all about fighting for LGBT rights so they can have equal rights as a heterosexual couple. He further explained the discrimination gays have to face when trying to get housing, a job and even within the job. He pointed out that this is the case in Missouri, as PROMO is solely focused on this state.

He clearly is passionate about LGBT rights.

“The Missouri Nondiscrimination Act (MONA) will update the existing Missouri Human Rights Statutes to include sexual orientation and gender identity so lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Missourians are protected from employment, housing and public accomodation discrimination,” Piccola said. “Yes, that means you can be fired for being gay in Missouri. We feel that everybody, including gay and transgender people, should have the opportunity to earn a living, provide for themselves and their families and be judged on their work performance – nothing more, nothing less.”

During the event, Piccola explained discrimination against LGBT people can lead to a desperate decision..

“LGBT youth commit suicide because of [these] issues,” Piccola said during the event.

He further explained how his group wants to see an anti-bullying act that will protect these people within public schools from being bullied because of their sexual orientation.

Taylor McGrath, president of the MWSU PRIDE Alliance, supports laws to protect and give rights to the LGBT people.

“I think that it is a shame that the LGBT individuals across Missouri don’t have the same rights as other individuals.” McGrath said.

Shannon McKinney, treasurer of the MWSU PRIDE Alliance, also is an avid supporter of LGBT rights and protective laws.

“Well, I am a homosexual myself so it’s obvious that it affects me. It’s also something that a lot of people don’t really, fully understand,” McKinney said. “And to me, a lot of the things like, for example, marriage equality, in my opinion, that’s an issue of the 14th Amendment for equal protection under the law. Because, as it stands right now, the LGBT community is not equally protected under the law.”

Piccola ended the event by inviting everyone to the Equality Day in Jefferson City on Feb. 17. He explained that the event will start at 10 a.m. The bus will leave from Kansas City and take anyone who wants to talk to the legislators about LGBT rights to the Capitol. After the event, the bus will take the people back to Kansas City. Anyone who wants to go is invited and welcomed to go.

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