Thursday, March 19, 2009

Greensboro Programs Engage on School Violence Prevention, Transgender Policy Issues

Guest post by ENC intern Greer Cook

Last night ENC's Community Organizer Rebecca Mann presented the School Violence Prevention Act at the Hemphill Library in Greensboro and intern Stephen Wiseman discussed his research findings about the needs of transgendered people in North Carolina. I joined them there, along with Communications Fellow Wes Nemenz and lots of supporters! We had a great group of people representing Greensboro and High Point PFLAG chapters, UNCG students and staff, and faculty and staff from some of the local schools.

Rebecca spoke about the history of the SVPA and where things are now with the legislation following the reintroduction of the SVPA last week. The importance of the enumerated categories within the SVPA namely sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression was discussed and the audience weighed in on lawmakers who where opposed to the inclusion. One audience member said, “Those who want to take out the enumerated categories are saying that bullying is ok”. ENCs Day of Action (March 24, 2009) was also highlighted and a significant portion of those attending last nights forum will be joining us next week in Raleigh.

Stephen’s presentation followed Rebecca’s and it began with an interactive exercise by the audience who were asked to define transgender, gender, and gender non-conforming. Some of the responses included the “negotiation of birth gender” and the “inherent sense of being male or female”. As the binary (male/female) system is sometimes not an accurate descriptor of identity, the authentic gender model was discussed allowing for a clearer picture of gender variance. Stephen’s needs assessment of trangendered persons in North Carolina found that issues related to health care and employment discrimination had the greatest impact on them. Look for more town hall meetings on transgender policy issues around the state in the coming months.

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