LGBT lobbyist hits campus advocating new statewide rights legislation
Pride Alliance will be hosting Julie Brueggemann, Executive Director of an LGBT lobby group, tonight. The speaker, who comes from an organization called PROMO, comes a week before Missouri’s statewide LGBT lobby day.
Pride Alliance, Washington University’s student LGBT advocacy group, is calling the event “Fight for Your Rights: Out in Missouri.” Brueggemann will be speaking about two pieces of legislation that PROMO will be trying to push through the Missouri houses of congress next week in Jefferson City.
Maryse Pearce, Pride Alliance’s community outreach director, said that Brueggemann’s appearance provides the group with an opportunity to widen their activity outside of the University.
“PROMO is the largest LGBT rights group and we have been wanting to network with them for a while,” said Pearce, a freshman. “We wanted to get involved in more community based things.”
The first proposed bill, called the Missouri Non-Discrimination Act, would generally prohibit discrimination in the state. The second, called the Comprehensive Safe Schools Bill, would expand the current school bullying policy in the state to provide added protection for students who are more likely to be bullied due to race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other characteristic.
Brueggemann said the Safe Schools Bill gives students adequate protection, safeguarding them from any kind of negative social pressure.
“We want the state to create a model policy,” she said. “It expands the definition of bullying to include harassment, discrimination and intimidation. It is a broad bill, so it would cover all of Missouri students.”
Although PROMO’s activity centers on the LGBT issues contained within the bills, their staff has been working with several other anti-discrimination coalitions around the state to push the legislation through.
“Obviously our concern is LGBT issues, but we are concerned about other constituencies that are served by this legislation,” said Brueggemann. “We have always been an organization that strives to build strong relationships with allied organizations.”
Brueggemann said that the allied groups have supported PROMO’s part in the legislation for a long time, and have had a general interest in the advancement of LGBT rights.
“We have found that the majority of organizations are in favor of including gender identity in the list of protected clauses,” she said. “It has been many years that we have had support.”
The support, however, is not as widespread among legislators, despite the fact that recent surveys have shown a majority of Missouri’s population desirous of LGBT rights.
“In 2004 we did a poll and 70 percent of Missourians do favor non-discrimination legislation,” said Brueggemann. “We do not have the support of the majority of legislators.”
The University, though, has been helpful in expanding LGBT rights, said Pearce, although there is still work to do.
“Wash. U. has been very helpful about issues of sexual orientation,” she said. “The mixed gender housing is something we have been working for. The school has more to do in terms of gender issues.”
She added that the student population has been supportive of Pride Alliance’s efforts, and she hopes that students outside of the LGBT community will attend Brueggemann’s speech.
“Hopefully students who are not just LGBT but are interested in issues of human rights [will come],” said Pearce “I have come across people that are opposed to LGBT rights, but on the whole, people have been in support of this.”
Although Brueggemann’s focus will be on the finer points of the legislation and the statewide climate for LGBT political issues, she said she is open to discussing a variety of topics.
“I am open to anything regarding LGBT issues in Missouri,” said Brueggemann. “I am sure I will be talking about more than [legislation].”
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