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Weekly Actions: Feb 26, 2017

February 26, 2017

Greetings, PAGE. This week we will take action for immigration, LGBT rights, and more. If you’re living in an area where any of these are sensitive or controversial topics, you may need or want to maintain your privacy as you complete these actions, or limit the way you engage. For some tips and pointers on cyber security, check out the security section of PAGE’s new updated toolkit.

  1. Show your support for transgender students. (Please do this one, if you can!)

In May 2016, the Obama administration provided guidance designed to protect transgender students in public schools. This guidance directed schools to ensure that transgender students have access to locker rooms, restrooms, and other single-sex spaces which match their gender identity, and to ensure that transgender students have access to the same programs and activities as other students. The guidance framed this as a justice issue, pointing out that “as is consistently recognized in civil rights cases, the desire to accommodate others’ discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students.”

 

This week, the Departments of Justice and Education, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions and Betsy Devos, revoked this guidance.

 

Why is this significant? Obviously, it’s important that everyone -- no matter their gender identity -- be treated with dignity, and have access to what they need to succeed in school. Trans students face incredibly high rates of bullying and harassment; the 2015 US Transgender Survey found that this caused 17% of respondents to leave school.  Public policy has serious impacts on the health, well-being, and safety of students; this study showed same-sex marriage legislation led to a decline in suicide attempts among LGBT students. For a first person account of why it’s so critical to make sure trans students are treated with respect and dignity, read this first- person, poignant essay by Janet Mock.

 

What can you do from abroad? First, learn more:

Maybe trans rights is a new topic for you. If so, here are a few resources to get you started learning more. This page from the National Center for Transgender Equality answers some basic questions about what it means to be trans; here’s also some tips from GLAAD on how to be an ally to trans folks. Here’s a short video series in which trans folks share their stories. From where you are in the world, you may be able to order Transgender 101, a book about transgender identity.

 

Support Trans and Queer Youth

Trans youth will likely face increased bullying, discrimination, and violence as this guidance is revoked. Transgender rights activist Janet Mock suggests donating to the following organizations to support trans youth: FIERCE! BreakOUT, Hetrick-Martin Institute, The Door - A Center of Alternatives.”

 

Email or call your local school district

As national guidance is revoked, local government can introduce its own policy to protect trans students. Here’s a script for you to figure out what’s happening in your hometown, adapted from

WhatShouldICallAbout.Com. You can use it to email or call your local school board.

 

Hello,

I’m a resident of [your town] and I’m writing to ask what [Such and Such] County Schools’ position is on protecting trans students from discrimination and bullying.

 

Studies have shown that trans students have better mental health outcomes when their identities are respected and they’re allowed use the bathrooms and facilities that match their gender identity. I hope that [your town’s school board] shares my commitment to protecting trans students from discrimination.

Thank you.

[Your Name]

 

If they say yes, be sure to thank them! Ask them to write a public statement of support for trans students.

 

If they say no, get organizing! Contact the local Indivisible group in your district and ask them to take a stand on this.

 

2. Immigration Action Last week, we took action to respond to the devastating, dehumanizing deportation orders. Who’s benefiting from expanded deportation? Private prison companies, which will now get more government business.

 

USA Today reports that the new policies “require that undocumented people caught entering the country be detained until their cases are resolved, ending the “catch and release” program in which undocumented immigrants were processed by immigration agents, released into the USA and ordered to reappear for court hearings.” USA Today also reports that, “GEO Group, one of the nation’s largest for-profit prison operators, donated $250,000 to support Trump’s inaugural festivities” in addition to other donations for his campaign. This is extremely disturbing and unconscionable.

 

Take Action: Use the 5 Calls app to call your representative and the justice department and tell them that private, for-profit prisons are unacceptable.

 

3. Eye on Legislation: Keep an eye on U.S. legislation that impacts your country of residence and organize to engage with it. Trying searching bills including your country’s name in the 115th Congress here. See a bill that impacts your country of residence? Email us at engage.with.page@gmail.com, and perhaps we can organize a weekly action for the PAGE global network.

 

4. Reflect on PAGE Global Priorities. It’s been an exciting couple weeks for PAGE; we have been setting up partnerships with groups around the world. With so much going on, we are planning to hone our priorities to really focus on the issues where we can have the most impact from abroad.

 

Here’s what is currently on our priority list. Send us feedback at engage.with.page@gmail.com if you have a suggestion or feedback here.

  • Global Corporation Watch:  Around the world, we can keep an eye on global businesses and organize actions that folks in the USA cannot. For instance, we can support and organize boycotts of Trump’s businesses abroad, and organize against banks funding problematic and unjust projects in the USA, such as global banks supporting DAPL.

  • Climate Change: Many of us live in areas most impacted by climate change. We can use this position to collaborate with local activists working on climate change ,and we can also share stories of life on the front lines of climate change with constituents in the USA.

  • Refugee Crisis and Immigration: Many of us live in areas impacted by refugee crises. As our nation closes its doors, we can work from where we are to support refugees in our countries of residences.

  • Foreign Policy and Aid: We have eyes on the ground all over the world, and we can develop deep understandings of how US foreign policy impacts people around the world. Let’s keep our eyes on legislation that impacts the countries where we live, and take action to promote global peace and understanding.

 

*****

 

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