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Unprecedented town hall discussing LGBTQ+ issues

lgbtq+ town hall

The Human Rights Campaign will host a CNN Democratic Town Hall in Los Angeles tonight. Its focus: LGBTQ+ issues. Nine candidates will participate in the event, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Sanders, who is currently recovering from a heart attack, will not appear. 

The Town Hall is important due to the violence being perpetuated against the LGBTQ+ community under the current administration. In 2019 alone, the Human Rights Campaign reported at least 18 fatal shootings or killings of transgender individuals.

LMU has an LGBTQ+ population that, according to freshman biochemistry major Spencer Miller, is treated well, being provided with the resources and provisions they require. Miller, who identifies as a transgender man, feels lucky to be living in Los Angeles where it is safer for LGBTQ+ youth compared to other parts of the United States.

Miller added that he is likely to vote in the 2020 election because issues that are important to him are at risk. “I’m just a regular person. I’m 19, I’m trying to go through college,” said Miller. “I want to be able to live an average, normal life. I didn’t really ask to be this way … It’s frustrating I have to fight so hard to live the life that everyone else takes for granted.”

One of the most vulnerable communities in the U.S. continues to be those under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, especially the transgender community. While there are over 10 million LGBTQ+ adults in the United States, there are no federal laws that protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination in workplaces, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

In 28 states there remain no laws that explicitly protect the rights of workers based on sexual orientation and in 20 states there are no laws in place that protect workers based on gender identity, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign.

Just this week the Supreme Court heard two cases regarding discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. While same-sex marriage has been legalized in the United States since 2015, in the majority of states, there are no laws that prevent the firing of employees based on sexuality or gender, as reported by USA Today.

A ruling in favor of discrimination could affect an estimated 8 million LGBTQ+ workers in states where their rights are not protected due to their sexuality or gender, according to the New York Post. Several companies and corporations are in favor of protection of LGBTQ+ employees, the other side being mostly business groups with religious affiliations, as reported by NPR

The University’s LGBT Student Services (LGBTSS) provides students with support and resources, stating that “the staff provides all members of the University community with resources, education, and information about sexual orientation and gender identity and works to engage the University community in regular dialogue about the intersection of sexual orientation and gender identity with issues of faith, religion and culture.” 

Student Body President Ken Cavanaugh, who ran on a platform that focused on issues concerning the safety and security of LBGTQ+ students, said in a statement to the Loyolan, “ASLMU is working on some projects regarding trans students' safety at LMU, but we aren't ready to publicize any of this information yet. Stay tuned for updates in the coming months.”

Cavanaugh’s platform on Instagram when running for ASLMU president called for reforms on “LMU’s rigid gender-segregated housing policies,” stating that “despite pro-LGBTQ+ initiatives passed by ASLMU in recent years, and despite the congruence of safe student housing with LMU’s Jesuit values, housing employees have been consistently unable to help me secure living spaces in which I feel comfortable and safe.”

California is one of the few states where the rights of LGBTQ+ employees, and specifically transgender employees, are protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, where employers and housing providers cannot discriminate against individuals due to their sexuality or gender identity.

Watch parties will be held all around the country for the Town Hall on Oct. 10, with one in Los Angeles at 3:30 p.m. at the The Abbey in West Hollywood.

Kayan Tara is a senior Theatre Arts and English double major from Mumbai, India. In her free time she likes taking naps on the beach, trying new foods and contemplating the vastness of the universe as she drinks way too many cups of tea.

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