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Lawmakers' bills do put LGBTQ youth at risk, embolden bigots: Rainbow Rose Center

Rainbow Rose Center's board of directors
Audience members wave Pride flags while a parent speaks during the public comment period of the Central Bucks School District meeting in May 2022.

In response to the op-ed by state Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill, Ryan Aument and Scott Martin and state Rep. Dawn Keefer, the Rainbow Rose Center Board of Directors asserts that:

On June 21, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee moved SB 1277 and SB 1278, both of which directly attack LGBTQIA+ Pennsylvanians. SB 1277, sponsored by Aument, is a book and education ban on LGBTQ+ relationships while SB 1278, sponsored by Martin, is a gag order for school personnel on LGBTQ+ issues, forcing them to out vulnerable students to parents or guardians, and punishing them if they do not.

Each one puts our LGBTQIA+ youth at risk and also undermines the diversity, equity, and inclusion that our commonwealth strives to obtain. Each of these bills tries to harm an already marginalized community and further segregate them from the rest of society.

More:Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is no laughing matter — even if the bigots are buffoons

More:State lawmakers take issue with Dispatch's LGBTQ editorial

More:GOP’s violent, expanding war on LGBTQ kids should make you think about 1930s Germany

The Rainbow Rose Center, along with the PA LGBTQ Affairs Commission, denounces these bills. We also denounce HB 972, the so called “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” co-sponsored by Keefer, who continues to use inappropriate and discriminatory language when speaking about transgender athletes — showing her lack of compassion while refuting scientific evidence.

These senators and representatives are no strangers to lies and slanders — they are the creators and perpetuators of such language when it comes to the LGBTQIA+ community. Of false assertions they are all too familiar. Though presented mountains of scientific data, innumerable facts, healthy and vigorous debate, and countless compassionate pleas by the community, they refuse to leave the LGBTQIA+ community alone. Instead, they continue to cling to whatever cruel narrative they want so long as it appeals to their misinformed and minority opinioned base.

To say that “examples of actual bigotry exists only in the minds of The York Dispatch editorial board” is as false as their narrative. 

The LGBTQIA+ community has faced it time and again, from the elected leaders and their base. And their stance does indeed empower and embolden other bigots — people who call upon townships to revoke event permits days before Pride, people who use and perpetuate language that bullies and isolates members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and indeed condones the violent acts done by people who misunderstand and hate the LGBTQIA+ community.

These are all very real threats.

These representatives and senators do not take the time to get to know or understand their LGBTQIA+ constituents, whom they also represent, because they disagree with them for political reasons. In refusing to understand the LGBTQIA+ community, they refuse to see our shared humanity. They also refuse to speak to organizations like the Rainbow Rose Center and other advocacy groups. They would rather mislead their constituents, defame educators and school administrators, and disparage an already vulnerable population. We the people deserve more.

The Rainbow Rose Center fosters an environment of inclusion, equity and health where all LGBTQIA+ community members thrive in York County, Pennsylvania. We envision an inclusive community where all York County individuals feel safe and welcome in their everyday lives. We embody and advocate for justice, fairness, and acceptance for all, especially those who are often silenced. We bravely challenge the status quo and stand for what we believe in to grow and face the future together.

— From the Rainbow Rose Center's board of directors.