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April 21, 2016

LGBT Youth Get New GSA Name and Tagline; LGBT Elders Get Left Out of Key Legislation

By Rachel

GSA Makes Strides; Older Americans Act Not So Much

+ The GSA, a US organization that comprises youth meeting together in school settings with an adult mentor, is changing its name from Gay-Straight Alliance to the Genders and Sexualities Alliance in order to be more inclusive of the youth in its ranks. They’ve also adopted a new tagline: “trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice.” Their new language is inclusive of multiple genders and sexual orientations, appears to decenter straight allyship (although straight allies can still join GSAs), and directly engaging with the multiple intersections of marginalization that the youth who need it experience:

Our former tagline, “empowering youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools,” best described the work that youth leaders were doing in their GSA clubs when it was initially created. However, as social movements evolve, so have the youth leaders who comprise today’s GSA clubs. GSA activists still fight transphobia and homophobia in schools, but the criminalization of trans and queer youth of color has led to widespread school push out that calls them to do work beyond the boundaries of their school campuses. GSA leaders are also prioritizing intersectional work that fights against racism and classism as much as it does against transphobia and homophobia. The new tagline, “trans and queer youth uniting for racial and gender justice,” helps us communicate that.

At the same time that we’re seeing acknowledgement of the needs of LGBT youth, LGBT elders aren’t being recognized by the systems ostensibly trying to support them. This month, Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act, a bill originally enacted in 1965 that supports a range of services for older Americans, including meals on wheels, legal services, elder abuse prevention and more. Unfortunately, the reauthorized bill didn’t include recommended LGBT-specific amendments. SAGE, Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders, notes that these proposed amendments were crucial given that LGBT elders “face higher rates of poverty, pronounced social isolation, and less access to health care.”

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