HRC Celebrates Historic Swearing-In of Danica Roem to the VA House of Delegates

HRC celebrated Danica Roem’s swearing-in to the Virginia House of Delegates as the next representative of District 13. Roem is now Virginia’s first out transgender public official and the nation’s only out transgender state representative.

“Delegate Danica Roem’s victory was a game changer, sending a clear warning to anti-equality lawmakers across the country that the days of attacking LGBTQ people to scare up votes are over,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “HRC was proud to endorse her candidacy and to mobilize around her campaign. Today, as she is sworn in to the Virginia House of Delegates, Danica Roem is giving hope to LGBTQ people — especially transgender young people– all across this country. We congratulate Delegate Roem on this historic achievement and look forward to working with her to advance equality for all Virginians.”

En route to her historic victory, Roem unseated former Delegate Bob Marshall, who had a vicious, anti-LGBTQ record. In addition to working to make Virginia a more inclusive commonwealth for all, Delegate Roem is committed to moving Virginia forward by passing non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, improving affordable access to health care, updating the Virginia Human Rights Act to include gender identity and sexual orientation, and removing outdated, unconstitutional language on marriage equality that still exists in the Virginia code.

Working hand-in-hand with Equality Virginia, HRC worked aggressively in the commonwealth to get out the vote for Roem. HRC also worked to turn out the vote for Ralph Northam for governor, Justin Fairfax for lieutenant governor, and Mark Herring for attorney general — all of whom claimed victory in their respective races. HRC’s efforts were strategically targeted and included voters in all of the 15 legislative districts that elected new pro-equality candidates. HRC’s efforts more broadly targeted an estimated 185,366 LGBTQ voters and hundreds of thousands more allied voters in the commonwealth. The organization engaged fair-minded Virginia voters through targeted social media, emails, text alerts, direct mail, phone calls, door-to-door canvassing, and other crucial efforts.

HRC’s work in Virginia is part of a bold, proactive grassroots expansion called HRC Rising — the largest grassroots expansion and earliest deployment of resources in its 37-year history. The campaign has already hired a dozen new staff to lead the effort, aimed at expanding and mobilizing its grassroots army of 3 million members to bolster pro-equality candidates and initiatives in key states across 2018. To get involved or learn more about HRC Rising, visit hrc.im/rising.

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Reading, PA Becomes Latest Municipality to Protect Youth from “Conversion Therapy”

Today, HRC praised the Reading, Pennsylvania City Council for unanimously passing a measure to protect LGBTQ youth from “conversion therapy.” The ordinance prohibits licensed medical and mental health professionals from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice upon minors within city limits. Reading is the fourth Pennsylvania city to pass such a measure following Allentown, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

“No child should be put through the dangerous and inhumane practice of conversion therapy which we know doesn’t work,” said HRC State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley. “This victory would not have been possible without the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center and the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, who pushed for the council’s consideration and worked tirelessly toward passage of the ordinance. We remain committed to working with our partners in Pennsylvania and across the nation to ensure that this junk science is banned in every jurisdiction.”

“LGBT youth in the City of Reading achieved a major victory tonight with Reading City Council’s vote to ban unscientific conversion therapy,” said Adrian Shanker, Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. “LGBT youth are fine, just the way they are, and Reading is to be applauded for being on the leading-edge when it comes to protecting LGBT youth from this harmful quackery.”

“Conversion therapy,” sometimes referred to as “sexual orientation change efforts” or “reparative therapy,” encompasses a range of dangerous practices that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. These practices are based on the false premise that being LGBTQ is a mental illness that needs to be cured — a theory that has been rejected for decades by every major medical and mental health organization.

There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The dangerous practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.

In addition to cities in Pennsylvania, a growing number of municipalities across the country, including cities in Ohio and Florida, have enacted similar crucial protections. Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice.

HRC has partnered with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and state equality groups across the nation to pass state legislation ending conversion therapy. More information on the lies and dangers of efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity can be found here.

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