ALBANY, N.Y. May 17, 2016 - New York State United Teachers members will be part of a broad coalition today at the state Capitol lobbying lawmakers for passage of a wide range of bills aimed at prohibiting discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The LGBTQ Advocacy Day comes on the heels of a landmark federal directive handed down Friday by the Obama administration extending protections for transgender students in American public schools by ordering that they be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms that fit their gender identity.
"There is absolutely no room in our society for discrimination of any kind, most especially in our schools," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. "Classrooms should be sanctuaries and we must ensure that students feel safe at all times - safe from physical harm and unfair treatment in the knowledge that they can be themselves regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity."
NYSUT - acting upon a resolution passed by union delegates in 2013 - established a statewide LGBTQ Task Force which is now a standing committee. Co-chaired by NYSUT Vice Presidents Catalina Fortino and Paul Pecorale, the committee works to ensure the rights of the union's LGBTQ members are protected, their voices are heard and needs are addressed.
"It is a priority of NYSUT to make certain the workplace is welcoming to all people," Fortino said. "Our LGBTQ students and members deserve environments where they are safe and protected. In standing up for their rights, we are helping to ensure all students receive a quality education in a caring and supportive environment."
NYSUT has long been a leader in the fight for human rights, lobbying successfully for passage of New York's historic Marriage Equality Act and the important Dignity for All Students Act protecting students from bullying and other forms of intimidation. And, under the leadership of NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta, who guides the union's legislative work - and the front-line activism of Secretary-Treasurer Martin Messner, NYSUT will continue fighting to ensure human and worker rights are protected on all fronts.
"Social justice is an important cornerstone of America's labor movement and working to ensure all New Yorkers are treated with the same level of respect and dignity is central to NYSUT's mission," Pecorale said.
The following is a list of bills that NYSUT members, along with other activists participating in today's LGBTQ Advocacy Day, will be meeting with state lawmakers to discuss:
The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA): (S.61-B Squadron/A.4558-B Gottfried) - Amends the Human Rights Law to provide clear and explicit protections from discrimination based on gender identity/expression, including wrongful employment termination, refusal to hire, rental evictions and denial of public housing accommodations (which contributes to homelessness), refusal of business and services, and threat of and actual physical harm.
The Anti-Conversion Therapy Act: (S.121 Hoylman/A.4958 Glick) - Prevents a mental health professional from engaging in sexual-orientation and gender identity change efforts (conversion therapy) with a minor and expands the definition of professional misconduct with regard to mental health professionals.
The Child-Parent Security Act: (S.2765 Hoylman/A.4319 Paulin) - Recognizes the legitimacy of children born with the aid of assisted reproductive technology and legalizes surrogate parenting contracts. This legislation will provide clear and decisive legal procedures to ensure that each child's relationship to his or her parent(s) is legally recognized.
New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.