Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022
By Dean Scott Ryan
School of Social Work
June is Pride Month. It’s an opportunity to celebrate, support, and learn about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Ally or Asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities. Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate the successes and progress made thus far, support advocacy and social justice causes, and learn more about the LGBTQIA+ communities and what you can do to support them.
Pride Month is celebrated in June recognizing the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City in June 1969, which many believe were the catalysts that jumpstarted the modern LGBTQIA+ movement and advocacy.
This month is also a time to renew your advocacy spirit and remind others about the increasing number of hate crimes inflicted on members of the LGBTQIA+ communities and their allies. In addition to the increase in reported hate crimes, there are record breaking number of new laws enacted and legislation proposed in the past two years that are considered anti-LGBTQIA+. Elected officials and those running for office are openly threatening and bullying members of the LGBTQIA+ communities.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2021, there have been “more than 125 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in state legislatures, many targeting children who identify as transgender by denying them access to lifesaving medical treatment, banning them from participating in sports or using the restroom. This is up markedly from last year when more than 40 such bills were introduced.” The SPLC says most of these bills are being pushed by known anti-LGBTQIA+ hate groups.
Florida Politics magazine reported Florida State Rep. Mike Hill, a Republican, suggested in a meeting held on May 23 in the Pensacola City Hall that gay people should be killed.
According to ABC WFAA Local 8 and NBC News, earlier this month a pastor at the Stedfast Baptist Church here in Tarrant County allegedly told his congregation that gay people should be lined up and shot. The SPLC has labeled this church as an extremist hate group. East Idaho News published an article last week saying the pastor of a small anti-gay Baptist church told his members that God wants to “put all queers to death.”
This past weekend more than 30 masked men from the white supremacist group Patriot Front rode in the back of a U-Haul truck to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho with intentions of rioting and possibly inflicting harm during the city’s Pride event. According to the local police chief, the men were arrested wearing white supremacist insignia, and possessing riot gear, metal poles, and a smoke grenade. According to the Washington Post, this is the same group who had a member drive his car into people protesting against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 killing Heather Heyer and injuring 35 other people. Several of these men were from the North Texas area.
There are many more examples like this. However, the point is there is a marked increase in hate, acts of violence, and threatening acts of violence coming from politicians and religious figures. We must remain vigilant in advocating against hate.
Like I mentioned last year, Social Workers must speak out and address such targeted injustices. According to the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics in section 6.04a, “Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions to meet basic human needs and promote social justice”
In Section 604d it states, “Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.”
The School of Social Work and our classrooms are LGBTQIA+ inclusive, welcoming, and affirming. Many of our faculty and staff completed and conduct training and have specifically designated themselves and their offices as a Safe Zone. We have several Social Work professors who conduct research and clinical practice within the LGBTQIA+ communities.
It’s good to celebrate during Pride Month, but we must also remember those who sacrificed so much even their lives. We must double-down, organize, and remain committed to the LGBTQIA+ social justice and human rights movement.
Scott D. Ryan
Dean and Professor
School of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington
Some recommended resources and information to expand your knowledge, and to learn how to get involved and advocate: