Dear Representative Hambley,
I urge you to vote The Ohio Fairness Act out of committee and to pass it into law, for the good of all Ohioan’s.
Growing up, my cousin was different than the rest of us girls. She didn’t want to play house, or dolls, or dress up. She preferred to hang and play with the boys and to dress like them. We didn’t know why, and our family chalked it up to “being a tomboy” and she would grow out of it. She didn’t and she suffered in silence not knowing why she felt different than her gender. We didn’t know how to help back then, but we do now. We have the science to educate ourselves and the compassion needed to hear and understand their cries for help. I’m happy to say that today he has made the transition into the person he’s always seen in the mirror.
In 2013, a high school Gay Straight Alliance group was organized in Wadsworth. My son, Benjamin, became part of the leadership team. He and his friends saw a need to create a safe space for education and discussion for the youth of the LBGTQ community. Today, Spectrum continues to provide this support to the youth in Wadsworth. LGBTQ youth have one of the highest homeless rates among the homeless population, and a study conducted by True Colors United says that the LBGTQ youth comprise 40% of all youth experiencing homelessness, while they are just 7% of the total youth population in the U.S. Not only are LGBTQ youth at higher risk of homelessness, they also face a greater risk of "high levels of hardship," according to a follow-up report by Chapin Hall in 2018. These hardships include higher rates of assault, trauma, exchanging sex for basic needs, and early death. These are children who don’t feel safe in their own communities. How shameful.
I recently sold my printing business and during that ten-year period I had the opportunity to meet and work with a variety of customers. One of my favorite customers was a transgender woman, Susan Davis. She made her transition after she left the Army in the early 70’s and because of that she was ostracized by her wife, children, parents and siblings, the veteran community, and her church. Society wasn’t welcoming her with open arms either. She was denied housing, employment, and she was harassed at every turn. Fortunately, as time went by and attitudes started to change, Susan finally found a spiritual home in the Unitarian Universalist Church and employment with local non-profits. She frequented my business because I treated her with the dignity and respect that I showed every other customer who walked through my door. Unfortunately, her journey isn’t unique, but it should be the last time any transgender person should have to worry about housing and employment discrimination in the State of Ohio.
Nondiscrimination laws have languished in the statehouse for the past eleven years. It’s time to stand up and tell the State of Ohio this legislation is important. By passing nondiscrimination laws locally we sent that message. So, I come to you today as a friend and advocate of the LGBTQ community. They may not be who you think they are or who you think they should be, but they are our children, our family and our community. They aren’t asking for anything more than what’s afforded other citizens in the State of Ohio, so let’s give them nothing less. I urge you to vote The Ohio Fairness Act out of committee and to pass it into law for the good of all Ohioan’s.