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Philly DA, Teachers, LGBTQ+ Community Vow to Protect Kids From Hateful Attacks by PA Lawmakers

PHILADELPHIA (June 30, 2022) – District Attorney Larry Krasner, public school teachers, and LGBTQ+ community leaders on Thursday united to denounce bigoted legislation aimed at further isolating and marginalizing LGBTQ+ youth and punishing queer-affirming educators.

The GOP-controlled state Senate on Wednesday voted mostly along party lines for a trio of bills aimed at LGBTQ+ students in Pennsylvania: Senate Bill 1277, which effectively would permit the banning of books and educational materials in public schools if there are complaints about “sexual” or “sensitive” content; SB 1278, a copycat of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that is even more extreme, as it outright bans gender- and queer-affirming instruction from pre-K through fifth grade and severely limits such instruction for grades 6 through 12; and HB 972, which would ban trans athletes from participating in school sports in public schools and state-funded colleges and universities.

The ban on trans athletes has passed both chambers with complicit support from a handful of Democratic lawmakers, including Philadelphia Rep. Ed Neilson.

“The hateful bills passed yesterday will incite homophobic and transphobic bullying, harassment, and violence in our classrooms. These bills will be used to set hateful mobs upon queer-affirming teachers and school board members – part of a violent, extremist playbook being followed in states like Texas and Florida,” District Attorney Krasner said. “As the chief law enforcement officer of Philadelphia County, I deal every day with the harms of the unequal society Pennsylvania lawmakers have created: LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately victims of domestic violence, of hate crimes, and of the dangers associated with homelessness, sex work, and substance use disorder. The bills passed by the state Senate yesterday create danger and promote violence in our communities. We stand here united in love and affirmation of LGTBQ+ children, families, and neighbors. We love you and will fight every day to protect your dignity, safety, and peace.”

“The Commonwealth has more than $12 billion in surplus funding, yet the General Assembly has failed to pass a budget on the first day of the new fiscal year because the Republican leadership chooses to prioritize and pass anti-LGBTQIA+ and racist legislation to perpetuate systems of bigotry that harm our young people every day,” Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said. “Every child needs and deserves to be seen, heard, and respected for who they are. Shame on Pennsylvania Republicans who continue to lead with bigotry and hatred.”

“Pennsylvania lawmakers said loudly and clearly that they don’t care about our students. Instead of working to set a budget that ensures we have what we need to help guide our students through the most challenging time we have faced in decades, they decided to not just double down on their agenda of hate and bigotry, but triple down on it by passing three morally reprehensible pieces of legislation,” said Kate Sundeen, an educator at Academy at Palumbo in South Philly and a PFT member. “To the LGBTQ+ students of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania: We see you and we have your back. Just because irresponsible lawmakers in Harrisburg have an agenda of hate does not take away the fact that you are amazing, powerful, beautiful beings full of potential who deserve state leaders who are willing to protect you and your educational futures!”

“This legislation seeks to deny the truth, censor the reality, and punish the truth tellers for asserting the story of British, American, and world literature including great LGBTQ+ writers — from Socrates to William Shakespeare to Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes to Sonia Sanchez  — and the many talented LGBTQ+ student future writers who are currently in Pennsylvania schools now,” Central High School educator and PFT member Ben Hover said.

Naiymah Sanchez, Trans Rights Organizer with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said: “TLGBQ+ people belong, and we have a right to live free from targeted attacks that discriminate or push people to harm us. During a month dedicated to TLGBQ+ pride, we see in Pennsylvania these anti-TLGBQ+ actions, and we’re reminded that we can’t have pride for some until we get justice for all. Act now or regret it later, because trans people are under attack. They will start with us and will end with you. Trans rights are human rights, and we must fight, fight, fight!”

Asa Khalif, a member of the District Attorney’s Office LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, added, “We won’t allow no anti-gay bill pushed by the right wing to force LGBTQIA+ people back in the closet.”

“The repealing of Roe has stoked the flames of fear that have been inside every LGBTQ+ person since the inception of our nation. It brings concerns of further de jure legislation attacking our rights, such as repealing the ability to marry, adopt, or the right to make life-saving medical decisions for our bodies regardless of sex assigned at birth or gender identity. It also dredges the fears of the de facto stripping of rights, and of further discrimination in housing, employment, and basic safety — not to mention the impact on mental health,” said Ashley Coleman, Executive Director of GALAEI QTBIPOC Radical Social Justice Organization. “As we see an increase in legislation to take rights away from marginalized people, we see a rise in harassment, hate crimes, stigma, and microaggressions, and in turn we see a rise in suicide rates. Legislation that takes away the rights of some, manifests as the eradication of many. As we prepare to bury and mourn more of our friends, family, and loved ones, the correlation is not lost on those of us in the LGBTQ+ community.”

CONTACT:Jane Roh, 215-686-8711, [email protected]

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million residents of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually. Learn more about the DAO by visiting PhillyDA.org.