We oppose House Bill 2! Black trans lives matter!

Today in North Carolina, legislators have called an emergency session to ensure that LGBTQ people, workers, and students will be met with pushback and discrimination at work, in restrooms, at schools, and essentially any space where trans people want to access resources and accommodations.

We oppose HB 2 and recognize that this bill will be particularly damaging for trans women and trans and queer youth of color. The attacks in this bill go beyond any regulations for bathrooms and requirements for documentation. HB 2 includes provisions to prevent local city governments from protecting their workers against discrimination and paying living wage. This attack is another step in ensuring that North Carolina continues in a politically regressive direction.

We will not stop fighting until Black trans lives matter, until Black workers matter, until Black youth matter.

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition Response to NC HB 2

03.23.2016─
Statement:
On the anniversary of the passing of Blake Brockington, a Black trans teen from Charlotte, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly moved to attack working people and create dangerous conditions for women, LGBTQ people, black and brown people, and any workers who experience discrimination or who struggle to make ends meet.

The General Assembly and Governor McCrory chose to criminalize trans and gender nonconforming children and youth, and to scapegoat trans women and other trans people for rape by passing NC HB 2. House Bill 2 bars city and county governments from raising their municipal minimum wage, as well as prohibits anti-discrimination policies that account for gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation. Lawmakers were given only 5 minutes to review the bill and it passed within a 12 hour period without a single trans person of color being allowed to speak.
This bill reinforces the school to prison pipeline that trans and gender non-conforming students of color already face by making their choice of toilet grounds for suspension or arrest.
This bill rolls back decades of hard-won progress, and will harm our whole state. It undermines municipal democratic control, advancements in anti-discrimination policy, and further prohibits wage increases. This is a direct assault on working families and particularly working women of color who are most likely to be paid poverty wages. LGBTQ folks of color are workers, and we are worth more!

This bill uses trans panic and the scapegoating of trans women to derail real conversations about safety and consent. Trans and queer people are survivors of sexual assault, too. Our safety matters and we don’t make our community safer by threatening others with the brute force of the murderous police or incarceration. If our state is truly concerned for survivors of sexual assault, it will make comprehensive consent and sex education mandatory. This law does nothing to prevent indecent exposure and sexual assault, which are already illegal, but instead prevents local governments from protecting the safety and livelihoods of queer and trans people.

We honor and fight for Blake by affirming that our lives matter. Anti-transgender bias and legislation and persistent structural racism directly impact the devastating rates of suicidality, unemployment, physical and sexual violence, poverty, incarceration and homelessness experienced by transgender people of color.

Trans and Queer people of color demand a living wage and freedom from criminalization and discrimination, in the workplace and in the bathroom.

Tonight, we are calling for a Special Session of the People outside of the Governor’s mansion. For Blake Brockington, for Angel Elisha Walker, for all Black and Brown trans and queer people in North Carolina who have been murdered, disappeared, or incarcerated, it is our duty to speak. It is our duty to demand freedom, to demand a living wage, to demand education, to demand comprehensive health care that is accessible and free of charge.

Signatories:
QPOCC, The Tribe, #BlackLivesMatter North Carolina, Sister Song, Ignite NC, Southern Vision Alliance, Youth Organizing Institute, #BlackLivesMatter Gate City, Workers World Party, SONG NC, Greensboro Mural Project, GenderBenders, Fight for $15, QORDS, Trans Pride in Action, Queer Youth Circus, House daLorde, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI-NC), SAFE Coalition NC, LGBTQ Center of Durham, Center for Family and Maternal Wellness

Registration for Teen Convening, now open!

Click here to register your youth group for Building Bridges: Teen Convening

Each spring since 2012, the Youth Organizing Institute has hosted the Building Bridges Teen Convening, a retreat for youth organizers and activists throughout North Carolina. Through this convening, teen organizers and adult allies who organize to end the school-to-prison pipeline, fight racism, work for LGBTQ liberation, create food justice, and other issues, come together and build bridges in the intersections of the issues and work they focus on. High school students from across the state are able to talk about issues affecting them in their schools and communities, lead workshops and skillshares about issues and skills that are relevant to the work they engage in. The programming is developed and led entirely by a team of representatives from the youth organizations who will be in attendance. The role of adult allies is to support with logistics and transportation, as well as to share space with other adult allies and discuss their work with youth.

YOI believes in the liberation of young people and strongly feel that in order to build a strong movement, we need to build intentional relationships with organizations who share our vision of youth liberation. It is with great joy that we invite you to register for our fourth annual teen convening!!!

 

We Condemn the Raids! Stop the Attacks on Immigrants!

The Youth Organizing Institute is in solidarity with the families, students, parents, and communities impacted by the ICE raids.

We support the freedom of movement of migrants who are leaving their home countries as a result of U.S. foreign and immigration policies. Undocumented immigrants should not be targeted for finding a way to survive.

We uplift the efforts of our local community to resist and fight against the criminalization of youth of color and undocumented immigrants. Please continue to support the work of organizations such as SEIRN, El Pueblo, Inc, and many other grassroots organizations who are on the frontlines of this fight.

The repressive political conditions of North Carolina, including the recently approval of anti-immigrant bill HB 11, makes these ICE raids possible and we will not stop until these ICE raids end!

HKonJ Weekend a Huge Success!

With our partners, Ignite NC, Queer People of Color Collective and many others, we brought together nearly 100 youth from across North Carolina for HKonJ Weekend! Check out some of our photos below.

 

Join us at the 2016 Pre-HKonJ Youth Power Convening!


Join the Youth Organizing Institute, Ignite NC, the NC Student Power Union, Southern Vision Alliance, and many others for a youth & student convergence in Raleigh the day before HKonJ.

REGISTER ASAP so that we can get an accurate count for dinner, snacks, and light breakfast. We will follow up to coordinate the logistics of travel, lodging, and transportation as needed.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1eNoyMtQfOHsVlqzICjE_QIa-sPoXXPqtHImmz8rv9QQ/viewform

DATE: Friday, February 12, starting at 6pm.

WHO IS INVITED: All youth activists and organizers, youth groups and organizations

WHERE:
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church
Finlater Hall (around the back with the big windows)
1801 Hillsborough St
Raleigh, NC 27605

FOR WHAT? Join us for an evening of pizza, sign/banner making, chant/song learning, caucuses and workshops, and visioning for a better, stronger, and kick-ass youth and student movement.

OVERNIGHT?? This year there is the option to stay overnight, slumber party style! Organizations registering youth under 18 must send accompanying adult allies to help chaperon and will be responsible for following your organization’s protocols for obtaining permission from parent(s)/guardian(s).

BECAUSE THIS IS AN ALL AGES SPACE AND A POLITICAL SPACE.

IT IS STRICTLY ALCOHOL AND DRUG FREE.

Youth Organizing Institute staff will be on site all night to ensure that the space is safe, sober, and welcoming to everyone.

If you are under 18, want to stay the night, and will not be coming with a group, you will be sent a release form which must be signed by a parent/guardian by Friday the 12th.

If you have any questions please call or send an email to Q at (919) 760-7088, Q@empoweryouthnc.org

***This event is for youth only and will center the experiences of people ages 13-30***

“Wake County transgender students want school bathroom choice”

Check out Hayden and CJ in this piece by The News & Observer!

The Wake County school system allows some transgender students to use the student bathroom of their choice while offering to let other transgender students use staff restrooms.

Wake County school officials say they decide whether to approve requests from transgender students to use different restrooms case by case, approving some and turning down others. Now two transgender teenagers are urging North Carolina’s largest school system to allow all transgender students to use the restroom that matches their identity.

An online petition was created after Hayden Riner, 17, said he was threatened with suspension from Athens Drive High School in Raleigh if he continued to use the boys’ restroom. Hayden was born a female but identifies himself as male.

“The public school system was set in place to give every student an equal opportunity to gain a good education,” Hayden said. “It’s really hard to get a good education when you’re being threatened to be suspended for using the restroom.”

The petition, which had 698 signatures as of Sunday afternoon, comes amid a national push backed by the Obama administration to expand protections for transgender students. But the effort has drawn opposition from social conservatives who cite religious and privacy reasons.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article55208195.html#storylink=cpy

 

TSA: STOP THE PROFILING AND MISTREATMENT OF TRANS PEOPLE

Please sign this petition demanding accountability from TSA and Raleigh-Durham International Airport! YOI is in solidarity with Dolores and all trans and gender non-conforming people subjected to this kind of violence.

To Representatives of the TSA and Customer Service Relations at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport:

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, are writing to express outrage over the treatment of RDU passenger and North Carolina resident, Dolores Chandler, during an incident involving Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) on Wednesday, December 9, 2015.  Further, we demand that TSA and RDU take steps to immediately reform their practices and issue a formal apology to Dolores Chandler (see list of steps at the bottom of this letter).

Dolores Chandler identifies as transgender and uses gender neutral “they/them” pronouns.  Dolores frequently travels for both work and in their personal life. Dolores wears upper-body binders on a regular basis.  This is a normal practice for transgender people; Dolores never anticipated that as a direct result, they would be subjected to a traumatizing and disrespectful experience at the hands of RDU’s TSA agents.

On December 9, Dolores was catching a flight to New Jersey to attend a work-related conference.  Dolores is currently employed at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center as a rape and sexual violence prevention education specialist.  Upon exiting the full body scanner at the security checkpoint, two areas of their body were flagged: their front/crotch area and the left side of their chest.

The following is Dolores’ account of the incident:

“I consented to the first of several pat downs, which happened in public. The TSA agent ran her hands along my left side and felt what she called an ‘anomaly’ because my left side was not the same as my right side. She asked me what I had on and I replied, ‘My undergarments’. She then leaned down to look at my front/crotch area and said, ‘Now what do you have going on down here?’ as she lifted my shirt slightly and prodded my around my waist. Looking at someone’s crotch and asking, “What do you have going on down here?” is not an appropriate question to ask anyone, regardless of their gender or gender presentation.

While in public, the TSA agent repeatedly and loudly referred to my chest area as having an ‘anomaly’. I explained what I was wearing at least two more times, and requested a private screening. I was led there by 3 TSA agents.

Once in the private screening room, I was questioned again about my undergarments. Several times, I said to the TSA agents, ‘I am wearing something that has clasps on the side.’ While attempting to communicate to the TSA officers that I was feeling stressed and uncomfortable, I was cut off and told ‘there’s no need to get emotional’ and patted down again. The TSA officer shook her head at me and stated that there was an anomaly that she was unable to clear-up and that until the anomaly was cleared I would be unable to board my flight. Another supervising TSA agent informed me that if I felt so strongly, they could ask law enforcement to be present.

Another female supervisor was called in for another pat-down. She stood behind me and patted down my upper body. She felt and dug deeply into my armpits. She held up a paper sheet in front of me and instructed me to hold it with each hand while I lifted my shirt with the opposite, so that she could inspect underneath. I’m not sure what the sheet was intended to do because she leaned over to look beneath my shirt at my binder.

When they were done, they told me to have a good day and walked out of the room, offering no apology and leaving the door wide open.  I left the room and walked toward my gate in tears, I finally found a quiet place in the ‘family bathroom’ where I sobbed for a long time.”

Dolores filed a formal complaint through the TSA’s website and received an inadequate response from RDU TSA Customer Service Representative, Karen Merrit, in which she stated that the TSA was following protocol.

While we understand that the TSA’s top priority is security, the TSA also claims as part of its mission to treat travelers with fairness, dignity and respect.  In this case, the TSA agents failed to do so.  Dolores’s treatment was insensitive, disrespectful, and done in public.

Dolores emphasizes that they have not had this experience at other airports.  In comparison, Dolores would like to uplift their experience Thanksgiving weekend at the airport in Austin, TX:

“I recently traveled to Texas for the Thanksgiving holiday and was pleased by the presence of “All Gender Bathroom” signs. While I was subject to a pat-down at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, the TSA agent was extremely respectful, communicated exactly where they would place their hands and did not touch me elsewhere. To me this shows that the TSA and its agents do have the capacity to treat travelers with dignity and respect, while still prioritizing security and safety.

This experience is just one in a well-documented history of inadequate and insensitive treatment of transgender travelers by the TSA. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey indicated that 1 in 5 transgender travelers have reported harassment or disrespectful treatment by airport security.  Countless transgender travelers have been outed without their consent in the process of trying to get through airport security, which sometimes results in further harassment and mistreatment by TSA agents and other airport staff.

The burden of how travelers are treated to ensure a dignified experience should not be on the passenger, but rather written into the policies, procedures, and practices of RDU and the TSA. A traveler should not have to talk openly nor explain their gender identity and expression with strangers in order to safely board their flight.

Durham and Raleigh are fast becoming desirable travel destinations and Research Triangle Park is a high tech region that attracts international firms and enterprising start-ups.  RDU is often the first place encountered by those that travel to, or move to our area.  Adopting inclusive and sensitive best-practices should be a top priority for our airport authority.  We hope that RDU will use this as opportunity to re-evaluate its practices and procedures so that it can be a model to its peers for providing top quality, secure and respectful services.

We, the undersigned, demand that RDU do the following:

  • Issue a formal statement and apology that acknowledges the TSA agents’ disrespectful treatment of Dolores Chandler.
  • Provide a list of steps the agency will take to ensure that problematic practices change (for example the practice of assuming a person’s gender before they enter a body scanner).  These steps should include a timeline and be made in consultation with organizations that represent transgender people, including but not limited to the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
  • Provide adequate training for TSA agents and RDU staff on transgender competency and adopt a screening policy in consultation with the trans community.

 

Thank you for your timely response to these requests.

Sincerely,

We, the undersigned

* for identification purposes only

Dolores Chandler
The LGBTQ Center of Durham
The Durham Solidarity Center
The Youth Organizing Institute
Southern Vision Alliance
Ignite NC
Southerners On New Ground (SONG)
Jillian Johnson, Durham City Council Member, at-large *
Loan Tran, Board Member, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) *
Elena Everett, Director, Southern Vision Alliance

 

Wake County Schools: Include transgender-based bathroom discrimination in school policy.

Check out and sign this petition being spearheaded by a YOI Freedom School Alum!

Here is the testimony from Hayden’s friend on why the petition is being organized:

My friend Hayden Riner just wanted to use the restrooms at Athens Drive High School.  This should be no big deal, right?  You need to go when you need to go.  Instead, Hayden was instructed by his teachers he could not use the men’s restrooms and instead had to use the women’s.  Why?  Because Hayden was assigned female at birth, despite the fact that many of his peers accepted him as being a man.  That’s why I am petitioning Dr. James G. Merrill, Superintendent of Wake County Public School Systems (WCPSS), and Dr. Jim Martin, Chair of WCPSS Policy Committee, to ask for a change in WCPSS policy to specifically protect transgender student’s right to use a restroom congruent with their internal identity and protect them from bullying and harassment from students and faculty. Bathrooms are supposed to be a non-issue, so long as they’re clean, but when you’re transgender, like Hayden and I are, they turn into something much more stressful.  Like a mental war zone, we’re faced with the choice of either using the restrooms congruent with our identity, and facing the possibility of violence and harassment, or using the restroom congruent with our biology, with our peers watching us and categorizing us into “male” or “female” against our best efforts for the opposite. Hayden was offered the ability to use the single stall restrooms in the library, however this frequently was halfway across the school, meaning the trip from the classroom to the bathroom and back often resulted in missing instruction from teachers.  This “solution”, although better than the women’s restroom for Hayden, was described by him as “embarrassing”.  If a policy like the one above was put in place for the WCPSS, Hayden would not have to miss as much instruction as his non-transgender students, as well give him the power for school administration to punish the students and teachers that had been harassing him when he did opt for the men’s restroom.  It’s simply a win-win.  Hayden uses the restroom he wants, and he no longer misses instruction due to long hallway strolls or anxiety caused by bullying. Sign our petition to tell Dr. James G. Merrill and Dr. Jim Martin to protect transgender students under school policy starting today. For press inquiries or comments, email us:connorjlewis98@gmail.com