April showers bring awareness-raising campaigns! This first full month of spring is filled with events meant to direct our attention to the needs of marginalized people and ways we can make our world better for everyone. As the days continue to get warmer and everything begins to bloom, we are reminded that this is the time for planting seeds of change.
From supporting Autism Acceptance Day/Month to preparing for the International Day of Silence for LGBT people, we’re going to point out a few of the ways you can cultivate acceptance and equality across the country.
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:
We’ve got a hailstorm of hashtags for you this week and ways you can support autism acceptance, boost trans voices, and help end teen dating violence.
#NotOK is both a hashtag and the name of an advocacy group started by an intrepid group of teens from Noblesville, Indiana as part of a campaign to end teen dating violence. The Indiana Youth Institute reports that the state has the second-highest rate of reported rape among high school girls in the nation, and these young leaders rightfully say that needs to end. The group is using the hashtag #NotOK to encourage teens, parents, educators, and communities to have open conversations about violence in relationships. Ending teen dating violence starts with educating people and it ends with understanding that no one is entitled to another person’s body. If you need help or want to be part of the work to end dating violence, you can find resources and information through Break the Cycle, a separate national organization also working to end teen dating violence.
#MoreThanVisibility points out the need to support policies that protect and better the lives of trans people (like opposing anti-trans bathroom bills). More Than Visibility was also the theme for this year’s Trans Day of Visibility on March 31, but events celebrating the lives of trans folks will be going on well into April. We’ll point out a few coming up this week. In the meantime, trans individuals can use the hashtag to join the conversation and share their experiences; supportive allies should use the hashtag to help amplify the voices of trans people into a thunderous roar against transphobia.
April is also Autism Acceptance Month, a time when we recognize the diverse experiences and inherent value of people with autism. With so much misinformation out there about what autism actually is and how to support individuals with autism, the best thing to do is to follow the leadership of those individuals themselves. After all, they know more about their experiences and what they need than anyone else. Educate yourself through organizations led by people with autism such as the Autism Self Advocacy Network, and be wary of anything that speaks negatively of people with autism or even mentions that vaccines might possibly cause autism. That’s just hot air and nonsense. Instead, appreciate the incredible spectrum of human experience that lights up our world.
We’ve got a transgender visibility conference lighting up San Jose, California. Some black liberation sunshine is moving in over D.C. next week, and a high pressure system of social justice advocacy is moving into Laramie, Wyoming.
Saturday, April 2
San Jose, California: Be seen and get involved at the South Bay Trans Day of Visibility Conference.
1:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
938 The Alameda
San Jose, CA
Trans folks in the South Bay area are recognizing Trans Day of Visibility with a daylong conference, with informative presentations and workshops on topics ranging from medical concerns to spirituality. The conference will also feature film presentations and conclude with a party at a local bar. Admission costs are based on a sliding scale from $1 to $20, but no one will be turned away for not being able to pay. There’s no need to register in advance, but more information can be found here. Get out in San Jose and be more than visible, be a catalyst for change!
Everywhere: Put on your best red threads and Walk in Red for Autism Acceptance Day.
Right where you are
Walk in Red is a campaign to support Autism Acceptance Day on April 2. Folks around the world will be putting on red shoes and participating in events to show their support for people with autism. Participants can also post pictures to social media of themselves in their favorite red shoes, or anything else red with the hashtag #WalkInRed. Including a link to a local chapter of the Autism Self Advocacy Network would be a nice touch, too.
Tuesday, April 5
Washington, D.C.: Find out why black lives matter to a growing city at the Conference on Equitable Development.
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
800 21st St NW
Washington, D.C. 20052
This year’s Conference on Equitable Development is focusing on the question “A Moment or a Movement?” People from all walks of life in the D.C. area are invited to explore how black lives matter when building up a city where all people can thrive. Co-sponsored by One DC and Washington University, the conference will feature presentations and panels from community leaders and activists addressing how to create and sustain a movement that values black lives in a city’s future. Several offsite tours will be available in the afternoon, but attendees will have to provide or pay for their own transportation to reach them. Registration for the conference is required but free and open to anyone who wants to help shine a light on building a movement that values black lives.
Wednesday, April 6 - Saturday, April 9
Laramie, Wyoming: Celebrate 20 years of the Shepard Symposium on Social Justice.
5 p.m. April 6 - 7 p.m. April 9
1000 E University Ave
Laramie, WY 82071
The Shepard Symposium on Social Justice is a three-day conference addressing inequality based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and class. This truly inclusive conference brings together academics and activists from around the region to dig deep into the work for social justice. Its 20th year promises to be its biggest yet. Registration is free, but make sure you register if you plan to attend this social climate-changing conference.
Tuesday, April 15
Everywhere: Help LGBT people to be heard on the Day of Silence.
Every year, the Day of Silence is marked by students across the country taking a vow of silence to bring attention to how bullying and prejudice harms LGBT people. There’s still plenty of time to organize an event at your school or get involved in local events. Head to GLSEN’s Day of Silence website for more information and resources to help you get started.
We’re looking forward to more social justice work raining down throughout the month of April as we keep an eye on the sky for what’s coming. Whether it’s bringing out the sun or calling down a storm, we need you.