The past week has seen disturbing anti-LGBT legislation advance in several states -- like in South Dakota, where the state Senate passed a bill that would force trans students to use the wrong bathroom at school, and in Tennessee, where a bill defending discrimination has gained momentum.
But national organizations and local advocacy groups refuse to back down in the fight for equal rights, and we’ve got a flood of petitions and rallies in your forecast for the week ahead. This week, we’re going to let you know about some of the ways you can help to rain on this anti-LGBT parade and make way for rainbows and sunshine in the future.
If there’s something on the horizon in your area that you’d like to see featured in the MTV News Social Justice Forecast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
All Month Long:
For this last full week of February, we’re looking at a hailstorm of hashtags you can use to join the conversation and show your support for LGBT equality.
#HiFromSD was originally created to promote tourism in South Dakota, but has since been hijacked by LGBT rights advocates to draw attention to discriminatory legislation in the state. Join them and let South Dakota know you do not support that beautiful state supporting such ugly hate.
#FADA is being used in Georgia to draw attention to the ironically named First Amendment Defense Act. In truth, the Georgia bill allows for discrimination against LGBT people, single mothers, people who have sex outside of marriage, and essentially anyone someone may disagree with based on their religious beliefs. Exercise your free speech by sending a message with the hashtag to remind Georgia legislators that discrimination is not an American value. Georgia residents should also sign up here to add their voice to opposing the FADA.
#StopHB4012 may not be the sexiest hashtag ever, but it’s raising awareness of hateful West Virginia legislation masquerading as a religious-freedom bill. The "West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act" intends to allow people to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religious belief. Sound familiar? This is what we call a weather pattern around here. Tweet that hashtag to join those standing up for equality in West Virginia, and sign the petition against the bill here.
We’ve got a storm of support coming for transgender youth in South Dakota. Florida is working for brighter days for LGBT people in the state. Look forward to some Black Lives Matter sunshine in Tennessee this weekend.
Friday, February 19–Monday, February 22
South Dakota: Sign the petition to protect trans students.
The ACLU is circulating a petition to South Dakota’s Republican governor, Dennis Daugaard, asking him to veto a bill that will force transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity, and that exclude them from gender-segregated athletics programs. If Daugaard signs, it will be the first openly anti-trans “bathroom bill” to become a law.
We don’t want to make that kind of history, so add your signature to the petition and spread the word. Early next week, Daugaard is also scheduled to meet with a group of trans students who hope to convince him to veto the bill. The signatures on this petition will help them show how many people support that veto.
Saturday, February 20
Chattanooga, TN: Be empowered by Alicia Garza of #BlackLivesMatter
7 p.m. ET
First Baptist Church
506 E 8th St., Chattanooga, TN
Alicia Garza is headed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for a speaking engagement hosted by the city’s Black Lives Matter affiliate organization, Concerned Citizens for Justice. Garza will be speaking on the state of the movement for black liberation, and will be answering questions people may have about organizing and strategizing in their own communities. The event is free and open to the public. For more info on the event, email email@example.com.
Tampa, FL: Head to the Equality Florida Tampa Gala 2016
7:30–11 p.m. ET
4121 N 50th St, Tampa, Florida 33610
Equality Florida, which works to ensure full equality for LGBT Floridians, is having a fundraiser gala this weekend in Tampa. Money raised from ticket sales and a silent auction at the gala will go to support Equality Florida as they continue the fight for justice. Tickets start at $150. If that’s too pricey and you still want to lend your support, volunteer opportunities for the event are available. Equality Florida also hosts free, informative Equality Connection events across the state on a regular basis, which you can keep track of here. Ticket and volunteer information are available at the Equality Florida Tampa Gala Facebook page.
Tuesday, February 23
Nashville, TN: Rally to oppose counseling discrimination.
8 a.m.–3 p.m. CT
301 6th Ave N, Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Join those gathering in Nashville on Tuesday to stand against the Counseling Discrimination Bill that has advanced in the state Senate. The bill states that “no person providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist” -- basically, that a counselor can refuse service to an LGBT client on the basis of the counselor's religious beliefs. Counseling associations, community groups, and LGBT advocacy organizations have spoken against this bill; folks in the area can stand with them as the bill goes before the state House Health Subcommittee on Tuesday.
Friday, February 26–Saturday February 27
Riverside, CA: Attend the Asterisk Trans* Conference
University of California Riverside
900 University Ave, Riverside, CA
Last week, we mentioned registration for this collegiate trans conference, and now it’s nearly upon us! The conference will host sessions and workshops designed for and by trans college students. Things kick off Friday, and a wide range of topics will be covered over the weekend. Those traveling to the conference can refer to this travel and stay guide.
Oklahoma: Join the Take Root Conference 2016: Red State Perspectives On Reproductive Justice
University Of Oklahoma
1704 Asp Avenue, Norman, OK
Another conference that begins next Friday is Take Root: Red State Perspectives On Reproductive Justice in Norman, Oklahoma, which will bring together advocates, supporters, and activists to network and share strategies for protecting the reproductive rights of people across the country. The conference also has a helpful travel and lodging guide for people coming in from out of town.
Wednesday, March 2
Washington, D.C.: Rally to protect abortion access with the Center For Reproductive Rights
The Supreme Court
March will kick off with some very important political events. Just one day after Super Tuesday, reproductive-rights activists will gather outside the Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. This case will decide the fate of a Texas law that would shut down an estimated 75 percent of health clinics providing services to women in the state, and the decision will have repercussions for access to abortion services and other reproductive rights across the country. Make plans to head to D.C. now and RSVP with the Center For Reproductive Rights here.
In the meantime, stay informed and find ways to make a difference right where you are. Whether it's bringing out the sun or calling down a storm, we need you.