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Op-Ed: Tucson’s Multifaith Coalition Shows Up for Pride

What comes to mind when you think of a parade? Music, dancing, fanciful clothing, even a float or two? A  Pride parade is all that and more: it marks an exuberant and enthusiastic celebration for and by the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual) community. (The additional “+” stands for all of the other identities not encompassed in the short acronym.)

But Pride is more than just a party; Pride is also protest. Both the month (celebrated June in more temperate climates around the world) and the movement arose out of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, when gay and trans folks stood up to police violence and forever changed the struggle for LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.

The struggle is real. There are, to date, more than 500 pieces of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that have been introduced in statehouses across our country this year. Almost 300 of those are anti-trans, and many of them target trans youth.

Even though research strongly shows that affirming and inclusive environments, such as households and educational settings, actively reduce the rate of suicide among this population, the Arizona State Legislature introduced thirty anti-LGBTQIA+ bills this past session.

Among the proposals was legislation that would have made it illegal for teachers and other school personnel to respect the pronouns of a trans or non-binary student without written parental permission (AZ SB 1001); a bill that would have put schools at risk of litigation for providing supportive and affirming spaces for LGBTQIA+ students (AZ SB 1005); and a bill which would have banned trans students and school personnel from using school restrooms that match their gender identity (AZ SB 1040).

Few of the Arizona bills passed, and none was signed into law by Gov. Katie Hobbs. But merely introducing anti-transgender bills and peddling anti-transgender rhetoric has a damaging impact on youth in Arizona. A Trevor Project survey shows that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by these legislative attacks. The Human Rights Campaign asserts that these and similar bills “stoke fear, create stigma, and harm the well-being of LGBTQ+ people.”

Numerous faith traditions explicitly embrace and espouse the inherent worth and dignity of all people. Some say that we are each made in the image of G-d (b’Tzelem Elohim); others view our creation as a reflection of the awesome mystery of the Universe.

However the sentiment is articulated, members of Tucson’s Multifaith Coalition take it seriously. As faith leaders and community organizers, our work calls us to advocate on behalf of oppressed communities and affirm marginalized people as a lived expression of those values.

On Friday, September 29, we will show that support with our feet, when the Jewish Community Relations Council joins members and clergy from several local congregations to walk in Tucson’s Pride Parade. Together, we will show up for our LGBTQIA+ friends and loved ones, celebrating the beauty and humanity of our diverse community while acknowledging the challenges that we still face.

Pride weekend will also include a special multifaith service to recognize and affirm the gender identities and chosen names of our transgender and nonbinary siblings.

We hope you will join us. For more information, or to register for these and other events please visit www.tjmhc.org. To learn more about Tucson’s Multifaith Coalition, contact Lynn Davis at ldavis_jcrc@tjmhc.org.

Read more about Pride at the Library of Congress.

Members of the Tucson Multifaith Coalition Steering Committee Include:

Reverend Matthew Funke Crary, Mountain Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Lynn Davis, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council for Tucson & Southern Arizona

Ben Garren, Episcopal Campus Ministry, University of Arizona

Pastor Naomi Hartman, Foothills Lutheran Church

Reverend Meredith Joubert, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

Chris Tackett, Music Director, Mountain Vista Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Reverend Amalia Vagts, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church