N.C. restroom law shows fight for LGBT equality is far from over

North Carolina’s recent discriminatory law regarding public restroom usage has been labeled as anti-gay and caused a widespread boycott of goods and services within the state and a civil rights lawsuit against the state filed by the Justice Department.

The law in question requires people to use public toilets according to the gender determined on their birth certificate.

Assuming you and I don’t pee with our birth certificate in hand, the law could lead innocent bystanders’ gender and sexual preference to be questioned based on appearances alone — the very definition of prejudicial profiling.

North Carolina may seem far geographically, but ideologically that prejudice seeps into every community — no matter how seemingly progressive. Long held as the bastion of protection for the LGBT community, New York City only allowed legalized same-sex marriage in 2011 under the guidance of Gov. Cuomo.

On May 4, I attended LGBT Network’s “Studio 54” gala as both honoree and lifelong supporter of LGBT equality. The prejudice and bigotry directed toward the LGBT community are a burden the country carries and continuously fails to throw off its shoulders.

Despite the June 2015 Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage, states have now found a new fear to manifest itself in public restroom use, now that same-sex marriage has become passé.

As a Latino I know full well the sting of prejudice — I know it has a corrosive effect on a democracy — and I also know that bigotry can seep into every part of our society if we allow it to go unchecked.

LGBT Network gives us the means to confront harmful laws meant to deprive people of their basic rights, instilling in our youth and their parents an education and awareness of how people are supposed to be treated, no matter their religion, race, ethnicity or sexual preference.

Equally important, it allows us to educate people that those in the LGBT community are their neighbors, their friends, their family members… their children.

Numerous studies have shown that the shift in attitude from ignorance to acceptance takes place in the young and influences the aged.

As of 2015, Pew Research Center found that 70% of millennials supported same-sex marriage, while those numbers reduced by each generation gap: 59% amongst Generation X (1965–80), 45% among Baby Boomers (1946–64), and 39% among the Silent Generation (1928–45).

LGBT Network realizes that the change is, for lack of a better term, trickle up. From student to parent to grandparent. The money raised by their efforts goes to school programs meant to spread love and acceptance, and I hoped to do that alongside them on May 4.

Regardless of the obscene political rhetoric we are hearing from some presidential candidates, I believe our nation has finally turned a corner in regards to the LGBT community — it’s nothing less than historic — but the fight is far from over.

Our support of New York’s LGBT community effort will ensure we have the resources to strengthen the fight and sustain our prior victories.

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