Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Statement on Pride Month

June 2024

As we begin Pride Month, we are reminded of the profound significance of this annual celebration. Pride Month is not only a time to commemorate the hard-fought progress in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights, it also serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice.

Pride Month is rooted in the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ+ community in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on June 28, 1969. Led predominantly by transgender women of color, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the riots marked a turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, galvanizing activists and sparking a wave of advocacy across the United States. In the years following the Stonewall Riots, LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies organized marches, protests, and celebrations in June to commemorate the anniversary of the riots, laying the foundation for what would become known as Pride Month.

The first official Pride Month was established in 1970 to celebrate LGBTQ+ visibility, resilience, and liberation. Since then, Pride Month has grown into a global movement, with events held in cities around the world to promote LGBTQ+ rights, raise awareness of issues facing the community, and foster a sense of solidarity and belonging. Over the decades, Pride Month has evolved to encompass a diverse array of activities. From parades, to educational workshops, to advocacy campaigns, all aimed at advancing LGBTQ+ equality and celebrating the rich diversity of the community.

During Pride Month, we recognize the invaluable contributions that LGBTQ+ individuals have made across every field, from arts and culture to science, politics, and beyond. Throughout history, LGBTQ+ individuals have courageously challenged norms and barriers, pushed boundaries and driven progress. Figures like Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California, paved the way for LGBTQ+ representation in politics, while trailblazers like Bayard Rustin, an openly gay civil rights leader, played instrumental roles in the fight for racial equality alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. LGBTQ+ artists and writers such as Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and RuPaul have left indelible marks on American culture, shaping discourse and challenging stereotypes. The contributions of LGBTQ+ people are woven into the tapestry of American history, enriching our society and inspiring future generations to strive for inclusivity, equality, and acceptance.

Transgender Rights Continue to Be Targeted

Despite the progress made by LGBTQ+ advocates, work remains. In last year’s Pride Month statement, we warned of the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the country. Unfortunately, this warning remains as relevant as ever. The dramatic rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that began last year has only intensified, with numerous states enacting discriminatory laws targeting transgender individuals’ rights to healthcare, participation in sports, and access to public facilities. So far, 489 bills have been introduced in state and federal legislatures. Each of these bills represents an attack on our families, friends, and community. These laws not only undermine the dignity and humanity of LGBTQ+ individuals but also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to a climate of fear and intolerance.

This toxic environment has particularly harmed LGBTQ+ students and youth. Incidents of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in schools have risen sharply in recent years, with the most dramatic increases occurring in states that have passed laws targeting LGBTQ+ students. As we observe Pride Month, let us remember Nex Benedict, a nonbinary student who was yet another victim of these hateful anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. Additionally, we must recognize the impact that opponents of equality have had in shaping popular opinion of LGBTQ+ rights. Recent polls have shown that U.S. public support for LGBTQ+ protections has fallen for the first time since 2015, despite more Americans identifying as LGBTQ+ than ever.

We Stand in Solidarity with the LGBTQ+ Community

In the face of this anti-LGBTQ+ movement, it is critical that we redouble our efforts to protect and defend the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Whether through litigation, advocacy, or community outreach, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to challenging discriminatory practices and dismantling barriers to equality.

As members of the legal profession, we have a unique responsibility to use our skills and expertise to advocate for marginalized communities and uphold the principles of justice and fairness. During Pride Month and beyond, let us continue to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and work tirelessly toward a future where all individuals are treated with dignity, respect, and equality under the law.

On behalf of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, Happy Pride Month!

Sanford Heisler Sharp is a nationwide public interest law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. See below for a list of Pride Month events in the cities where our offices are located.

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Baltimore Events

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New York City Events

Palo Alto/San Francisco Events

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Washington, DC Events

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