There was a fascinating exchange today in the Virginia House of Delegates over Del. Mark Levine’s HB1049, a bill that “Prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation, public contracting, apprenticeship programs, housing, banking, and insurance on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Now, you’d think this bill would be an easy “yea” vote for every member of the House of Delegates, but…nope, not for 39 Republicans. One of the most extreme, far-right, and homophobic of those Republicans, Del. Dave LaRock (yeah, this clown) stood up and rambled for what seemed like an eternity, talking…verrrry….slowly…for…some…reason, specifically about the case of Peter Vlaming, “who was fired by the West Point School Board for refusing to use a transgender student’s new pronouns.”
“LaRock said LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws may sound innocuous, but can be ‘weaponized against people.’
‘These policies are being used to punish anyone who does not agree with the ideology of the day,’ LaRock said.”
Fortunately, we’ve got Del. Danica Roem (D) in the House of Delegates now, and she wasn’t putting up with LaRock’s ignorance and intolerance. See below for Del. Roem’s absolutely kick-ass speech, which basically brought the house/House down, which led to a standing ovation for Del. Roem, and which was followed a few seconds later by passage of the bill by a 59-39 margin. Great job, Del. Roem!
“That student at West Point, his name is James. I’ve met James. I introduced James at Equality Virginia’s Commonwealth Gala last year, while he stood next to another young woman named Morgan. James is the young man who he is and Morgan is the young woman who she is. Both of them *do* know what it’s like to be singled out and stigmatized because of who they are…to be discriminated against in Virginia schools because of who they are.
In Morgan’s case, she was left out during a lock-down drill…she was left with a panic attack…and what did anyone do about it? Well, we’re not so sure, because we didn’t get great guidance about how we should humanely treat a trans girl in schools…
When I introduced Morgan and James at Equality Virginia…and the entire ballroom stood up to applaud them, that was the first time in James’ life that, since he announced himself to be the young man who he is, that people actually applauded when they heard his name…actually celebrated him for who he is.
And if you believe in a deity, then you have to understand that that deity made James who he is and made Morgan who she is…And the best version that we can be for every Morgan, for every James, throughout this Commonwealth, is to make sure that they never face the discrimination that they have faced in schools, and to make sure that no teacher, no person ever singles out and stigmatizes a student or any child…
Some members of this body might not be able to empathize…but I can. I was too afraid to be them…because that stigma and that fear is so real. You have no idea what it’s like to be Morgan or what it’s like to be James. You don’t know until you have lived it, until you have cried yourself to sleep over it. No child in the Commonwealth of Virginia…should ever be afraid to be who they are and to be that well and to thrive in this Commonwealth, because of who they are, not despite it, and not for what discriminatory politicians tell them they’re supposed to be. Let’s pass this bill.”