Last week, Equality Virginia launched a month-long community education campaign to increase awareness about the fact that it is still legal in Virginia to discriminate against gay and transgender people.
Currently, there are no statewide protections for LGBT people in employment or housing leaving Virginians vulnerable to discrimination in their daily lives. The new billboards read, “Someone you know is gay… they can be fired for who they are.”
The campaign references the famous “Someone You Know Is Gay…” billboards erected around Richmond in the mid 1980’s. Led by Guy Kinman and the Richmond Gay Alliance, the effort aimed to build awareness that many of us know someone who is gay and that human connection is an important element in decreasing prejudice.
“Many people are surprised to learn that it is still legal under our state’s laws to fire a hardworking employee, deny them an apartment, and otherwise discriminate against people simply because they’re gay or transgender,” said James Parrish, Executive Director of Equality Virginia. “The good news is, support for equality has grown by leaps and bounds and people from all walks of life have come to understand that we all have LGBT loved ones, coworkers, and friends. The goal of this year’s campaign is to increase understanding of the lack of legal protections these communities face and demonstrate the toll discrimination takes on LGBT Virginians and their families.”
Follow up billboards will feature LGBT Virginians and quotes on the adversity they face because of the lack of legal protections. Radio spots in the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets will complement the billboard campaign.
Equality Virginia is prioritizing community education while working in the Virginia General Assembly to pass nondiscrimination protections in housing and public employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Similar bills have passed the Virginia Senate with strong bipartisan support for three consecutive years. During the 2018 legislative session, House Speaker Kirk Cox prevented a house committee vote on those bills – SB 202 and SB 423 – despite significant bipartisan support on the House floor to pass both pieces of legislation.