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These Are The LGBTQ+ Victories Already Achieved In 2016

2015 was undoubtedly an amazing year for progress in the LGBTQ+ community. Several countries legalized same-sex marriage, including the United States, and others extended adoption rights to same-sex couples as well. Multiple states elected LGBT politicians to office and legislation banning LGBT discrimination was endorsed by the President.

Of course, the community — which still faces disproportionate rates of homelessness and mental illness and poverty — has a long way to go before achieving equality. But even so, thanks in no small part to the many tireless advocates and allies supporting the cause, the movement has already achieved some incredible things this year.

One significant victory is the notable efforts of schools to be more inclusive of trans students. On January 13, for example, one school in Alberta, Canada geared their new guidelines towards creating more inclusive spaces for transgender members of their community. Schools must include gender-neutral bathrooms, can no longer impose gender-limited dress codes and must eliminate gender-segregated activities in order to ensure that “students who are gender-diverse have the right to participate in activities congruent with their gender identity.” The guidelines also include the right for any student to be addressed by their preferred gender pronoun, such as “ze” or "they" instead of “he” or “she.” Although there has been backlash to these changes, those who implemented it stand by it and defend it as an important step in the right direction.

A private, all-girls school in Toronto, Canada also made a meaningful effort to include and represent trans members of their community. Branksome Hall's annual winter alumni magazine, The Read, featured Andy Sprung and Reed Wanless — two transgender alumni who transitioned following their graduation in 2004 — on its cover. This issue also featured a profile of the former students' transition stories. Students and teachers have offered positive feedback and the school aims to further diversify its student body, educate students' parents, and host a conversation, co-hosted by Wanless, about transgender issues.

"It’s stories like this people in the community can relate to," said Wanless, who wrote a piece about teaching and some of the challenges he dealt with post-transition for the school publication.

LGBT progress hasn't been limited to Canadian schools, however, but international policies as well. For example, Vietnam unanimously passed a law this year abolishing their ban on gay marriage. Although an increasing number of countries, like the United States, have been jumping on this bandwagon, Vietnam is particularly notable as it's the first Southeast Asian country to do so. Although same-sex marriages in the nation still lack some legal protections, like rights to assets, the same benefits awarded to straight couples will also be granted to gay couples in the near future.

While we still have a long way to go to achieving full equality, it's important to remember the many things the LGBTQ+ movement has achieved and continues to achieve. It looks like 2016 might prove to be the year everything changes — in the best way possible way.



More articles by Category: Feminism, LGBTQIA
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, Sexuality, Transgender, Equality, High school, Asia
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