A group of gay youth lobbied California assemblyman Curren Price on Saturday, asking him to co-sponsor a bill that would protect young people from discrimination in schools.
The lobbyists included Maria Ramos, 18; Andrew Konke, 21; and Ignacio Pitalua, 19. Pitalua told the congressman that being picked on by other kids was “a big obstacle to learning,” the AP reported.
These young people are not alone in their activism. Others like them are protesting for gay rights across the country.
The lobbyists in California used their experience in school to make their points.
Ramos spoke up for her queer friends, explaining how name-calling from other students hurt them academically.
Pitalua talked about the time a trash can was emptied on him by peers who thought he was gay.
“The biggest change that has happened from 10 years or twenty years ago is there are more out people now, from openly gay teachers to openly gay classmates,” gay activist Candace Gingrich told the AP.
“That awareness and getting that kind of support from your peers makes you stronger, as an individual and as a group, being willing to fight for things and to stand up against harassment.”
Last month, a bill passed in Iowa which is designed to keep queer students safe from bullying.
This followed an Iowa Pride Network report revealing that over 83% of lesbian, gay and transgendered students had been verbally bullied because they were queer.
Lluvia Mulvaney-Stanak, director of Outright Vermont, thinks gay youth make a difference because their tales might remind politicians of how it felt to be picked on in high school, or how difficult it is for their own kids.
“Their advocacy, unheard of as recently as a decade ago, reflects the slowly growing acceptance that is emboldening gays and lesbians to come out of the closet while they are coming of age,” said AP.
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