Posts Tagged ‘LGBT youth’

North Carolina’s HB2 – don’t boycott us, Cyndi Lauper-ize us!

Cyndi Lauper visiting Raleigh's LGBT Center before her June 4th concert.  I recognize the bookshelves in the background!  (Photo courtesy of the Raleigh News and Observer)

Cyndi Lauper visiting Raleigh’s LGBT Center before her June 4th concert. I recognize the bookshelves in the background! (Photo courtesy of the Raleigh News and Observer)

North Carolina has now become quite infamous for passing perhaps the most anti-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) state law in country also referred to as HB2. Provisions of this bill include dictating that transgender individuals must use the restroom of the gender on their birth certificate instead of their “current presenting gender” in public facilities, and municipalities and counties are forbidden to have local non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity. In large part, HB2 was passed to invalidate a recent ordinance in the city of Charlotte that is equivalent to non-discrimination protections currently included in a vast major of Fortune 500 companies’ corporate policies. (Link to my letter in the Raleigh News and Observer about this.)

I truly believe this arcane law was passed out of fear, misunderstanding and /or hatred of gay and transgender people. I also believe the law is meant as political fodder to divide the people of North Carolina and pit us against one another. Do check out a blog I wrote earlier this year, “Why do we all need someone to hate on – and now in NC it’s transgender people.”

In response, many music performing artists like Bruce Springsteen have boycotted North Carolina and cancelled their performances. They all articulate their displeasure with this law and their unwillingness to travel to a state which discriminates so blatantly against a segment of their population. I do agree that these cancellations raise the visibility of the issue and that the economic impact may drive our leaders to reconsider their actions. However, these artists are also punishing the many fair-minded people and the LGBT citizens of North Carolina who enjoy their music and want to attend their concerts. Now if more events that may appeal to those who support HB2 (like the NBA all-star game or NASCAR events) decide to boycott, that may really raise the visibility of this issue.

So what is a viable alternative? Do what Cyndi Lauper did!

Instead of cancelling her concert, she came early and met with LGBT youth at Raleigh’s LGBT Center. She discussed the impact of HB2 with them and expressed that there are many many adults who love and care about them as full equal human beings despite what they may be hearing from our government leaders. And then she proceeded to donate the concert’s profits toward working to have HB2 overturned. Quote from Ms. Lauper, “I will be donating all of the profits from the show to Equality NC’s efforts to repeal HB2 and I am proud of my manager and agent for joining me in this effort by donating their commissions from the show to this vital effort.”

I just know having a heart to heart chat with a mega-star like Cyndi Lauper is an experience that will remain with those teens the rest of their lives, and that her donated funds will really help Equality NC’s efforts significantly. Read the details in this Raleigh News and Observer article, “Singer Cyndi Lauper meets with LGBT youth in Raleigh to talk to HB2.”

Though I respect artists and groups who are boycotting North Carolina due to HB2, I encourage them to perhaps think different and more creatively. Don’t desert us and isolate us in our time of need. Instead, come be part of the solution, and consider Cyndi Lauper-izing us instead!

My 2014 Bullying Awareness Month Blog – Introducing a Dynamic New Organization

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

Tyler Clementi, the young man for whom the foundation is named

At the end of the summer this year, a good and very respected friend, Sean Kosofsky, moved from Raleigh, NC to New York City to become the Executive Director of a new nonprofit, the Tyler Clementi Foundation. I just knew this would be a great organization to highlight for this year’s Bullying Awareness Month blog.

For those not familiar, here is a link to Tyler Clementi’s story.

STAN: “Sean, first can you tell me a little about the Tyler Clementi Foundation, like its mission and vision?”
SEAN: “The Tyler Clementi Foundation is a national organization committed to ending bullying, harassment and humiliation, online and offline, especially for marginalized youth. Our mission is to promote safe, inclusive and respectful social environments in homes, schools, campuses, churches and the digital world for vulnerable youth, LGBT youth and their allies. We have only been around for a few years but the Clementi family has spoken to well over 10,000 folks around the country and continue to build a strong organization and board through their committed time and energy. In the coming months we hope to expand our programs, increase our visibility and build lasting partnerships that will help us reduce bullying.”

Seans nametag
STAN: “This foundation is quite new. Who started it and why?”
SEAN: “We were incorporated in 2010 but really started to grow in the past year. The Tyler Clementi Foundation was started by the family to provide a vehicle to help stop the suffering of other youth. The Clementi family story is powerful and it captured the attention of people all over the world. Instead of just mourning the loss of their son and then retreating, they decided that something had to be done and if they could build on the public outpouring of support, they should.”

Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University's esteemed orchestra as a freshman.

Tyler was a gifted violinist and earned in seat in Rutgers University’s esteemed orchestra as a freshman.

STAN: “What is particularly unique about the Tyler Clementi Foundation? What work are you doing that no one really is?”
SEAN: “We want to differentiate ourselves in this sector by developing high quality programs, rooted in research that can measurably improve the lives of young people. We don’t want to create any unnecessary duplication of services. We want to fill gaps in the sector, especially on college campuses and online. We need more research on effective messaging and more tools to get into the hands of parents and people of faith on how to address bullying…even if their child is bullying.”

STAN: “What spoke to you and personally drew you to move now from North Carolina to New York to lead this work?”
SEAN: “Though it finally passed after I moved to NC, I helped author and create the foundation for the anti-bullying law in Michigan. I have been in the struggle for LGBT equality for over 20 years. The issue that drives most of my activism is my undying passion to stop people’s suffering in silence. The isolation and fear of the closet damaged me as a young person and I don’t want it to damage others. When I was given the opportunity to partner with the Clementi family to hopefully save lives and improve our national discourse…I jumped at the chance.”

Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato

Current very exciting campaign / auction with the chance to meet superstar Demi Lovato

STAN: “Is there anything else you want to tell the readers of this blog at this time?
SEAN: “Yes! We have a very exciting campaign / auction (link) right now to meet superstar Demi Lovato. Even a small donation helps and enters you in a chance to meet her. Also we have our Upstander Legacy Celebration (link) Nov 17 in NYC honoring Stephen Schwartz (Wicked / Pippin / Godspell) and Gautam Raghavan, formerly of the White House, for their contributions to the movement for LGBT equality and anti-bullying. “
STAN: “Thanks so much, Sean, and I am so pleased you found this position which matches both your expertise in non-profit leadership and your passion for impactful activism. I wish you and the Tyler Clementi Foundation the very best of success.”

Link to my 2013 Bullying Awareness Month Blog about the connection between “playground” and “workplace” harassment and bullying.

Link to my 2012 Bullying Awareness Month Blog which includes links to additional resources and blogs.

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