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Why Representation Matters
Media Relations Manager
Why Representation Matters: LGBTQ Youth React to Tuesday Night’s Historic Wins
NEW YORK, NY (November 9th, 2017) – Tuesday night, history was made as numerous LGBTQ candidates, women, and people of color were elected to office. Of particular interest to GLSEN’s work to create safe and inclusive schools for all, Tyler Titus an out transgender man and father of two was elected to school board in Western Pennsylvania. Jenny Durkan became the first lesbian mayor of Seattle and Andrea Jenkins became the first out trans person of color to be elected to a major US city's council. In Virginia, Danica Roem became the first out transgender person to be elected to a state assembly, ousting an anti-LGBTQ incumbent and author of Virginia’s North Carolina style anti-trans bathroom bill.
These are only a snapshot of the many firsts throughout the country. Hoboken elected the first Sikh Mayor in the US. Virginia elected its two first Latinas to their House of Delegates, and the people of Charlotte elected the first African American woman to be mayor of Charlotte, NC.
Tuesday night’s victories were a clear repudiation of the politics of hate and division that has brought fear and uncertainty to so many young people. Tuesday, we saw our friends and neighbors across the country reject that message and vote for inclusion and affirmation. With these wins, many in the LGBTQ community have responded enthusiastically regarding the promise and hope of having LGBTQ candidates be elected to public office.
“It is a joy to see new faces of leadership emerging in elected office all across the country. It is a joy to see a trans woman defeat an opponent who termed himself the ‘homophobe-in-chief’ in VA. It is a joy to see a trans woman of color in city government in MN, black women mayors in NC and GA; out lesbian mayors in WA in NC, and out trans and LGB school Board members in WA, OH, MA, VA. And an attorney for Black Lives Matter as DA for Philadelphia,” exclaimed Eliza Byard, Executive Director for GLSEN. “Love won. Inclusion and respect won. A government that works for everybody won.”
Most importantly, Tuesday’s victories sent a strong message to LGBTQ young people everywhere. GLSEN National Student Council leaders shared the following responses to yesterday’s election results:
“When I see trans adults surviving and thriving, I have hope for what I can become. Even more so because I have an interest in politics and public policy,” said James Van Kuilenburg, a 17-year-old student from Frederick, MD. “Tuesday's victories are just another testament to everything trans youth can grow up to be, in spite of and at the same time because of their trans identity.”
Marisa Matias, 16, of San Diego, CA wrote “As a young QTPOC, politics have always seemed to give me the short end of the stick. Not anymore, history has been made and representation of marginalized groups have finally begun to take place.”
“It’s incredibly important for young trans folks to see our identities represented, especially in politics, because it shows us positive images of ourselves as adults and encourages young trans people to get engaged,” said Niles Clipson, 17, of Atlanta, GA.
"As a young bisexual woman living in fear of what modern politics could do to me, the wins from the last week are an astounding leap in the best direction,” said Em Gentry, 17, of Austin, TX. "I now have more inspiration from one election than I've ever had in my 17 years of life."
Finally, Marcus Breed, 17, of Orlando, FL said, “As a young trans activist, I can't explain how inspirational it is for me to see so many trans politicians being elected. It helps me remember that I can do anything, despite AND because of my identity.”
Today, young people everywhere are able to dream just a little bit bigger, reach a little bit higher, and truly believe that anything is possible. Tuesday, was a reminder that every vote in every election matters and so does representation, and that expanding the circle of inclusivity is what democracy is all about.
GLSEN creates safe and inclusive schools for all. We envision a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or expression. Each year, GLSEN programs and resources reach millions of students and educators in K-12 schools across the United States, and our network of 40 community-led chapters in 27 states brings GLSEN’s expertise to local communities. GLSEN's progress and impact have won support for inclusive schools at all levels of education in the United States and sparked an international movement to ensure equality for LGBTQ students and respect for all in schools. For more information on GLSEN’s policy advocacy, student leadership initiatives, public education, research, and educator training programs, please visit glsen.org.