By Johanna Kaiser, Development & Communications Associate

Happy Pride Month!

It’s that time of year again when Rhode Islanders from all walks of life come together to show celebrate the strides made by the LGBT community. The ACLU has been a long, proud supporter of equal rights for LGBT individuals and we are eager to join in the celebration. After all, there are successes to celebrate this year.

  • The Rhode Island Department of Health adopted new “vital records” regulations in October making it easier for transgender people to revise the gender designation on their birth certificate. The new regulations allow a gender marker change based on certification by a medical provider that the individual has undergone surgical and/or hormone treatment or “other treatment appropriate for the individual.” The current medical consensus is clear that surgery is neither appropriate nor necessary for many transgender people, and such a requirement therefore imposes an unreasonable and unwarranted burden. 
  • The City of Providence announced just last week that its insurance plans will now cover transition-related healthcare for employees and retirees. Gender-neutral bathrooms are also being designated in City Hall, the School Department, and Public Safety Complex.
  • In what could very likely be a landmark decision in favor of love and equality, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage. If the court finds these bans the unconstitutional, all 50 states will have the freedom to marry.

Still, there are many battles left to fight. The ACLU of Rhode Island remains vigilant in protecting rights of LGBT youth in schools and state care, preventing discrimination in the workplace, and reaffirming the rights of transgender individuals. Outside of Rhode Island, the ACLU is fighting a marriage refusal bill in North Carolina and an adoption refusal bill in Michigan, both of which use religion to allow discrimination of LGBT couples and families. And today, the ACLU of Virginia filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a transgender teen allegeding that his school's refusal to allow him to use the boys' restroom is a violation of  Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

As we continue our work to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBT Rhode Islanders, we hope you will stand with us in this work and join us when head to Pride Fest on Saturday, June 20. With just two weeks to go, we still need volunteers to join us at the festival to help set up, talk with visitors, and hand out fun giveaways like beads, stickers, and hand fans.

If you’d like to learn more about volunteering for the ACLU at Pride Fest, our monthly meet-up, or our work on LGBT rights, email or call our office (831-7171).

I hope to see you there!