The LGBTQ+ civil rights movement started in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, where riots were held in protest of a police raid. This uprising paved the way for an ongoing fight for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, whose members have experienced prejudice, discrimination, harrassment, and violence based on who they are. This audio story collection highlights the positive work of the LGBTQ+ community, advocates, and allies who have stood up and taken action to fight for equality and liberation. These stories address policy issues such as legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the rights of LGBTQ workers, as well as voicing perspectives on topics such as growing up gay or using gender-neutral pronouns. This audio collection can help listeners feel connected to the LGBTQ+ community and empowered to speak up as members or allies.
Bullies can have a lasting effect. In this audio story, Rob Littlefield discusses his experience being bullied at 13 years old. Littlefield was bullied by other students and even physically abused. He had thoughts of suicide because of his experiences. As Littlefield reflects, he imagines what his tormentors might think today about what they did to him. Listen to learn more about Littlefield, how and why he was bullied, and the ways in which teen bullying still affects him today.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the right to marry to same-sex couples in the United States. The Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the 14th amendment and that all states must allow same-sex couples to wed. This 5-4 decision overrides state laws and state constitutional amendments that forbid same-sex marriage. Many groups are celebrating the decision saying that this is a civil rights case that will one day be celebrated like the landmark integration case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Others who oppose same-sex marriage vow to fight the decision saying the court doesn’t have the right to override public opinion and states’ rights to define marriage. Listen to learn more about this historic decision. You can see how this decision will impact different states with this NPR Map and read the decision for yourself.
In 1969, Lynn Girton fell in love with a woman for the first time ever, not even understanding what homosexuality was. Her adopted daughter Molly is also gay, and despite this commonality has had a very different experience of life. Listen to hear mother and daughter discuss their different experiences of gender and sexual identity.
In 1969, a police raid of a bar frequented by homosexuals called the Stonewall Inn, led to a riot. The bar’s patrons began protesting and reacting violently to discrimination and harassment by the police, who regularly targeted gay bars. About ten years later, the HIV/AIDS epidemic began. This deadly auto-immune disease disproportionately affected gay men, and therefore was essentially ignored by doctors and lawmakers, leading the gay community once again to turn to activism. Listen to learn how the Stonewall riots influenced the fight against AIDS.
The editors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary added a new meaning of the pronoun “they” to its pages, sparking controversy. Although “they” has long been understood to mean several people, now it can also be used to refer to one person who does not identify as either male or female. Some people find this confusing, while others welcome the addition of a word that is already commonly used. Listen to hear a dictionary editor explain how the tricky decision to add a new word to the dictionary is made.
“He” and “she” are useful pronouns for referring to people in many situations, but they are not suited for every occasion. Multiple options are now available as the English language continues to evolve, including the singular “they.” Experts say the search for gender-neutral pronouns dates back hundreds of years, when people wanted an inclusive pronoun to refer to gender-neutral nouns such as “person” or “writer.” Listen to learn more about the history of gender-neutral pronouns and hear a language expert’s views on choosing which to use.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers may not discriminate against workers for being gay or transgender. The court based its decision on the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring discrimination on the basis of sex, saying that law applied to LGBTQ people. The ruling makes discrimination against LGBTQ people illegal everywhere in the country, overriding laws already in place in states and local governments. Listen to hear the man who filed the lawsuit seven years ago react to the decision, and learn how life for LGBTQ people may change as a result of the landmark ruling.
Professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe is considered one of the world’s top athletes. Among her many accomplishments, she helped bring the U.S. women’s national soccer team to victory in several Women’s World Cup tournaments. Rapinoe is also an activist who champions causes she cares about, including gay rights, equal pay for female athletes, and racial equity. She speaks openly about her personal struggles, and many view her as a role model. Listen to hear Megan Rapinoe reflect on a range of topics, from the current state of youth soccer to how it felt to realize she was gay.
In a landmark 2020 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that employers may not discriminate against gay and transgender workers. Soon after taking office, President Biden signed an executive order that broadened these protections beyond just the workplace. The order says discrimination in housing, healthcare, and other areas is also illegal, and the LGBTQ community is welcoming the news. Critics, though, say Biden’s order represents a misuse of executive power. Listen to hear why one attorney called Biden’s approach “transformational,” and learn about possible next steps to solidify protections.
Dr. Rachel Levine has become the first openly transgender U.S. federal official. She was confirmed as assistant secretary of health around the same time that many states were passing restrictive laws targeting transgender youth. She hopes her position will help educate Americans, and dispel any fears they may have, about LGBTQ people. Listen to an interview with Dr. Levine to learn about the challenges trans people face and how her appointment could help change attitudes.
Is it fair to let transgender female athletes – those who were assigned male at birth but identify as female – compete in women’s sports? Some have argued that transgender female athletes have unfair advantages, such as speed and size, over cisgender women, or those assigned female at birth. But what does the science say? Listen to a pioneering research scientist discuss the impact of hormones on athletic performance and how women’s sports can become more inclusive.
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