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Genevra Prothero: Trans youth deserve better

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Thousands participate in the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

Our LGBTQIA+ youth in Utah need and deserve to be loved and seen for who they are. The year 2023 has been exceptionally terrifying for the LGBTQIA+ community across this nation. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provides a map of the U.S. showing over 450 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills from 2023 that have already passed or have been introduced. It is not surprising that Utah state Sen. Michael S. Kennedy (Republican) sponsored SB16, which is a direct attack on transgender youth. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox already signed the harmful bill into law that bans gender-affirming health care for transgender people under the age of 18. Basic human rights are now gone due to a small percentage of politicians who are unaware. Our trans youth deserve better. Our LGBTQIA+ community deserves a safe space at all times and in all places. We live in scary times. We are regressing.

Fred Rogers from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ‘’ used to say: When scary bad things happen, we can “look for the helpers.” As a cisgender heterosexual kid, it was easy to find helpers. If a building was on fire, there would be a firefighter (helper); if a person broke a bone, there would be a doctor (helper). The people I called “helpers” when I was growing up were my parents, teachers, firefighters, doctors and police officers. As an adult, I know LGBTQIA+ community members of all ages and economic backgrounds who do not have the same access to the helpers as I had and still have. The suicide rate of our LGBTQIA+ youth is very high. Our LGBTQIA+ youth are in desperate need of helpers!

During the month of June, we celebrate Pride with the LGBTQIA+ community. We celebrate in recognition of the Stonewall riots. The Stonewall Inn (gay bar) was lit on fire by the police in June 1969. The people who were supposed to be helpers were the abusers. It has been 54 years since the Stonewall riots. We are seeing more helpers come forward: Teachers, school counselors, gender-affirming doctors, and nonprofit organizations. Politicians influenced by religion are tying the hands of these helpers by attacking them too. Marriage equality is at risk, transgender human rights are under attack, and the fear of losing one’s job because of who you are and who you love is a reality for the LGBTQIA+ community.

My dear friend, Kelly Whited Jones, has been advocating for LGBTQIA+ students in Davis County by showing up with me to make public comments at Davis School District (DSD) and Utah Board of Education meetings. Our children have graduated out of the DSD public school system, so it makes it harder for us to be heard. We will always advocate for our LGBTQIA+ youth. We are helpers in our community, but we need more helpers. Jones has served on the board of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) northern Utah. She has supported my efforts in growing Davis County Pride, and I have supported her efforts in growing GLSEN. This is not easy work. We invite others to join us and to become helpers. We invite all to attend our second annual Davis County Pride event on Saturday, May 6, at Layton Commons Park, from noon to 6 pm. Admission is free.

Genevra Prothero

Genevra Prothero is a resident of Syracuse in Davis County. She is the founder of Davis County Pride and now serves as the Chair and Executive Director.