Thrive, The Jewish Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth
Our young people must have the freedom to be their full selves, pursue their dreams, and live with dignity — no exceptions.
We invite national and local Jewish organizations of all kinds to join Thrive, The Jewish Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth.
Jewish tradition teaches us to treat every single person with respect and dignity. But today, some politicians in our country are pushing laws that hurt trans and LGBQ+ young people and our families in order to sow fear and secure power.
Keshet and SOJOURN are bringing together Jewish organizations to send a clear message: we believe in treating others as they would like to be treated. That means we love, protect, and fight for trans and LGBQ+ youth and all LGBTQ+ people. Taking action for LGBTQ+ rights is a mitzvah!
Together our Jewish coalition will send a message:
- We affirm that every single person, of every gender and identity, is created b’Tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image.
- We are committed to pikuach nefesh, saving lives.
- We are proud that our young people are expressing their full selves.
- We refuse to push kids — or anyone — into narrow definitions of who they are and who they can be.
- We support parents and families who fight for their kids’ safety and dignity.
The Thrive Coalition is a partnership between Keshet and SOJOURN.
Coalition partners are invited to attend monthly coalition meetings and agree to galvanize their communities to advance and protect LGBTQ+ rights.
You’ll get support and resources from Keshet, SOJOURN, and other Coalition members to share with your members. Fill out this form for your organization to join the Coalition.
We’re so excited to partner in this life-saving fight with you! Save the date and join the coalition to get connected to the first coalition call, Wednesday, 6/29 at 3pm ET.
What are the current legal threats to trans and LGBQ+ youth?
Right-wing politicians in dozens of states are creating state-level policies that deny trans youth the basic dignities of life.
These policy attacks are gutting. They don’t stop young people from being trans or LGBQ+, but anti-LGBTQ+ policies do make it much harder for kids to grow up feeling loved and safe. Jewish youth and Jewish families in states with anti-trans and anti-LGBQ+ policies are already losing access to life-saving healthcare and already fear for their safety.
The specific types of laws targeting trans and LGBQ+ youth include:
BANS ON HEALTH CARE FOR MINORS
Prevent youth under the age of majority from being able to access puberty blockers, hormones, or other medical care that alleviates gender dysphoria and allows them to present as the gender they know themselves to be. Sometimes these laws establish criminal penalties for health care providers or families.
Prevent trans students at public schools from using the bathrooms that best align with their gender identity. They can also ban trans adults from using public restrooms.
Often tacked on to other anti-trans legislation. They require public school officials to notify parents if a student speaks to an adult at school about questioning their gender or sexuality. For students who do not feel safe sharing this information with their parents, these requirements make it unsafe to talk to other trusted adults.
“DON’T SAY GAY” BILLS
Ban discussion of, or allow parents to sue teachers and schools for discussing, diverse genders or sexualities in public school classrooms under certain age limits. They are often vague in ways that make teachers fearful of discussing even the basic existence of LGBTQ+ people.
OBSTACLES TO NAME AND GENDER MARKER CHANGES
Establish medical or surgical requirements, minimum ages, or other procedural obstacles to changing one’s name or gender marker on official documents such as birth certificates and drivers’ licenses.
Prevent trans student athletes at public schools and universities from playing on the sports teams that align with their gender identity, and almost always focus on barring trans girls and women from teams.
Why is this happening?
Some people in power have learned that they can get attention by pushing extremist anti-LGBTQ+ policy that exploits the public’s lack of familiarity with transgender and LGBQ+ people. This is a cynical tactic that relies on stoking fears about LGBTQ+ folks to divide and distract the public. These politicians refuse to address what our families and communities really need – better policies and resources for everyone. Instead of working for jobs, healthcare, paid leave, housing, climate change and environmental justice, and more, these policymakers are attacking trans youth.
Policymakers come after young people because youth are powerful and also vulnerable. Young people today and historically are the leaders of so many movements for equality. And young people are often boldly committed to exploring and being their authentic selves. But youth are dependent on their families, schools, and communities for their basic needs and safety.
And right now the anti-LGBTQ+, and extreme right-wing Christian movement is gaining power.
States have a lot of leeway in establishing laws, policies, and procedures within their borders. When they have the votes, state legislatures can establish anti-trans policies that couldn’t pass at the national level. When people try to overturn anti-trans laws in federal courts, the case rulings can create legal precedents that apply nationally.
In 2021 a record-breaking 27 pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation were signed into law across the country. As of June 1, 2022, and according to HRC, over 300 laws have been introduced and laws have passed in 8 states. More are expected to be introduced. These laws deny gender-affirming healthcare for teens, bar kids from joining sports teams, and threaten to harm teachers, parents, or other adults who support young people. As Jews, we know the perils of standing by and remaining silent. For the sake of people’s lives and basic dignity, we must take action.
Why is it important for Jewish communities to take political action to defend trans and LGBQ+ youth?
Jewish voices matter. Today, a small but vocal group of extremist, right-wing Christian politicians and leaders are driving a national, coordinated, and well-funded movement to deny the basic rights of trans and LGBQ+ youth as well as LGBTQ+ adults.
But the overwhelming majority of Americans, including 85% of American Jews, believe in civil rights for people of all sexual orientations and identities. As Jews, we have an ethical imperative to treat each person as holy and deserving of respect and dignity. When we speak out for LGBTQ+ equality as Jews, we change the narrative that “religious” means anti-LGBTQ+. Our tradition teaches us that it’s a mitzvah, a religious obligation, to fight for the freedom and dignity of all people.
Further, the greatest mitzvah one can do in Judaism is to save a life. Anti-trans and anti-LGBQ+ policies contribute to the feeling for trans and LGBQ+ youth that there is something wrong with them or that they can’t fit into society. Devastatingly, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation are all too common among LGBTQ+ youth. Worse, these policies give homophobic and transphobic teachers, peers, and community members more opportunities to hurt LGBTQ+ youth. When we defend trans and LGBQ+ young people, whether by fighting for LGBTQ+ equality, preventing passage of anti-LGBTQ+ policy, or by creating communities of connection, comfort, and safety, we protect and affirm the lives of trans youth.
How else can we help?
To begin with, we can all make sure that we’re learning about and from trans and LGBQ+ young people, especially if we are unfamiliar with trans identity and experiences. We can learn to speak up about LGBTQ+ rights in our families, Jewish communities, workplaces, schools, and everywhere to share accurate, respectful information.
We can also bring our Jewish communities and organizations into Thrive: The Jewish Coalition to Defend Trans and LGBQ+ Youth. Through the coalition your community can get helpful, accessible education on trans and LGBQ+ youth issues, and join with other Jewish institutions to raise our voices for and with our young people.