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Celebrate Pride!

June is Pride month and on behalf of the AFT Washington membership, I want to say to our LGBTQ+ members – we see you! The existence of a designated month means so much, both in terms of the possibilities it creates and in terms of the history that generated the need for a month to recognize the beautiful diversity of people. Pride month seeks to make visible the millions of people who, for decades, have needed to be vigilant of the risks to their well-being as they navigated a hostile world. LGBTQ+ people, with allies alongside, have fought hard for their rights, from the right to exist to the right to marry, to the right to express their full selves at school, at work and in community. Pride month provides us the opportunity to celebrate the expansion of human rights and the people who have made that happen. Pride is the celebration of a community’s survival in the face of violence, hate and degradation.

As we celebrate, we must continue to stand against those who seek to stamp out the gains made by the LGBTQ+ community. We live in a time of backlash against progress, a backlash that threatens the very lives of people who are simply being themselves. We can look to the daily occurrences of anti-trans, anti-gay rhetoric to see evidence of this. We can cite book bans across the country, promulgated by a small group of people intent on denying the reality of people’s lives. We can hear the pain, sadness, and outrage in the voices of those who celebrated Pride at the Mariners’ game as they recall their joy, while also noting the boos they heard around them when Pride was elevated. An atmosphere of rejection is present throughout society, exacerbating the risk of mental health challenges, suicide, violent victimization, marginalization and more.

This must no longer be tolerated. AFT Washington says NO! to this backlash and we stand with a majority of the country on this. We all have a responsibility to create a climate and a culture of equity, inclusion and belonging. And not just during Pride month, but every month of the year!

We seek freedom for all – freedom from fear, from threat, from hiding; and freedom to live life fully, to explore and pursue dreams, to love fully, and perhaps most of all, to love oneself wholeheartedly. As one is. Full stop.

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