Lived Equality

“This historic decision ensures that LGBTQ people have nationwide employment protections for the very first time. This represents a monumental move that will help to create a safer working environment for everyone. This systemic change during a global health crisis and a growing nationwide movement to focus on supporting and protecting Black Lives — particularly Black transgender lives — against systematic racism and violence, this historic ruling is both uplifting and encouraging. However, we know that our work is far from complete, and the fight for full LGBTQ equality continues.”

— Imani Rupert-Gordon, NCLR Executive Director

NCLR’s work goes beyond impact litigation and policy reform because we know that changing laws is just one of the steps to reaching true equality. Shifts in public opinion are necessary for lived equality — that is, benefiting from policies and laws in place to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination.

These efforts work in tandem and the impact may be in both directions: laws are changed that eventually lead to more understanding and acceptance, and thus, adherence to the law. Or as we witnessed in June of this year, when the LGBTQ movement experienced a HUGE win with the 6–3 US Supreme Court decision in the Bostock case. Decisions such as these handed down from conservative courts are a testament to the shifts in public understanding and opinion.

“I am so grateful that no other student in South Carolina will have to go through feeling as if they have been erased or that they are unaccepted or isolated in their school. Thank you NCLR for and for helping us make South Carolina more equitable and accepting of its LGBTQ citizens.”

— Eli Bundy, President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance at their high school

For the first time, this historic decision ensures that LGBTQ people have nationwide employment protections and represents a monumental step that will help to create a safer working environment for everyone. This ruling ensures our position on countless anti-discrimination cases beyond employment, from housing and healthcare, to education and more! And while this ruling provides critical federal protections for LGBTQ people, most states still permit discrimination in public accommodations — including stores, restaurants, and hotels — based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Our work to enforce this new law — and to bring reticent people along — is ahead of us.

Laws and policies that forbid misgendering students in colleges or in places of employment are only effective if enforced. NCLR continues to work tirelessly to build bridges through our Rural Pride events and our Dialogues for Tolerance with conservative and religious organizations to create opportunities for information sharing and humanizing our work. As students of history, we are always mindful to leave room for growth and changing opinions as these are at the root of successful movements for change.

This past year, NCLR successfully challenged and overturned a harmful law in South Carolina barring LGBTQ public school students from receiving medically accurate, age-appropriate information about LGBTQ people in health education classes. The full repeal of this law establishes a baseline for positive educational experiences going forward, and the incredible work of these strong young people at the center of this effort and at the helm of their respective gender and sexuality alliances will create the lasting change of ideas so necessary for progress.

NCLR has been by your side in celebration and defeat throughout our LGTBQ movement. Our focus is sharp: fighting for our LGBTQ community when and where it’s needed most. This means we use the tools of litigation, policy, and public education to change the law while moving us all in the direction of justice and liberty. NCLR has called on you to join us before and this time is no different.

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