In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre last month, a vigil was organized in New London, CT on June 14, 2016, as a way for community members in New London to demonstrate their solidarity with the LGBTQ victims of the massacre. There was a large turnout for the vigil. As a follow up, the Southeastern Connecticut Clergy Association, OutCT and representatives of the City of New London held a public forum entitled Take
Action Orlando on June 29, 2016.
According to the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation at New London Website, the public forum was designed to address and organize on a number of issues and goals: to take steps for social action; to focus on vulnerable populations, especially the LGBTQ community; to build allies and educate the public; to learn about community outreach and advocacy projects as well as to identify resources on faith, LGBTQ matters, gun control, security and safety.
Speakers at the forum included New London Police Capt. Brian Wright, New London Human Resources Director Jeanne Milstein, Connecticut Against Gun Violence Executive Director Ron Pinciero, OutCT President Constance Kristofik, Carolyn Patierno from the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church and CHRO Attorney Alix Simonetti.
Points of discussion from the forum included reducing violence towards the LGBTQ community, the laws and protections that are available to the community to reduce violence, school bullying prevention measures in the state of Connecticut, racial profiling, and gun control.
Attorney Simonetti emphasized that violence against the LGBTQ community is not limited to gun violence. Violence can be both words and actions. Connecticut law protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in addition to numerous other protected statuses in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodation, school bullying, racial profiling and more. These laws are meant to protect against the overt violence seen in Orlando but also the kinds of discrimination some LGBT individuals face every day.
All persons who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated against are encouraged to contact the CHRO to get information and for assistance in filing a complaint. Those looking for more information about the CHRO process and what it entails can find more information here.
The CHRO is not only tasked with law enforcement, but education and advocacy as well. In the wake of the Orlando Massacre, a new focus has been cast on discrimination against LGBTQ people. Particularly, this focus has been directed towards the threats of violence made against that community as a whole. The forum hopes that the discussions held may serve as a springboard to developing a community action plan; a plan that will focus on the increased training of school officials, strengthening of gun control laws, and increased reporting of instances of discrimination wherever they occur. Towards that end, Commission staff is available to help facilitate or lead training in the work place and in school districts.
Stay tuned to the CHRO blog for an upcoming article on Attorney Simonetti’s overview of our state’s anti-bullying statutes that was presented at the forum.