Merkel Suffers Electoral Defeat to Anti-Immigrant Nationalists

This past Sunday saw a stunning defeat of Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the hands of an ascendent radical right-wing party known as the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD).

The local defeat took place in Merkel’s own parliamentary constituency in the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. While the results do not threaten CDU’s hold on power nationally, they provide a sobering look at voter sentiment just a year out from national elections.

Merkel’s governing party not only fell behind AfD in this past weekend’s elections, but was also defeated by the center-left Social Democrats, leaving CDU in third place in what has historically been a safe district for the party.

Analysts point to the Germany government’s policy on refugees as the primary catalyst for the rise of populist, anti-immigrant sentiment among the nation’s population. Frauke Petry – leader for the AfD – credits Merkel’s open border policy for her own party’s success:

The CDU is falling apart, but not only [in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania]. We see that in many regions of Germany where the CDU bases, the party bases, don’t agree with Merkel’s policy anymore. We want that the German government closes German borders to illegal migration… We need controlled borders. We need a change of legislation on a German level, but also an EU level, to avoid illegal migration.

CDU candidate Lorenz Caffier agreed, stating that “there was only one subject during the campaign, and that subject was the refugee policy. The refugee question was decisive.”

In 2015, Merkel’s government accepted more than 1 million refugees – mainly Syrians fleeing the intractable conflict in their home country – making it the single most open nation in Europe. Over the past year, several attacks linked to Islamists have heightened fears of immigration and provided fuel for nationalists to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment.

Far from being unique, Germany is a piece of a larger puzzle. Far-right nationalist parties are succeeding across Europe. In France, the National Front has made great strides in recent years, taking advantage of voters’ insecurities stemming from immigration and terror attacks.

Earlier this year, Petry sparked outrage when she suggested that the border patrol shoot immigrants attempting to cross illegally into Germany. This language is a big deal. Since the horrors of WWII, Germany has celebrated a culturally liberal spirit that has shamed many other nations with an emphasis on multiculturalism and acceptance.

These historical tendencies – however – are now under threat from rising populist parties that offer few solutions to their voters’ economic and cultural fears other than promises of international isolation and the marginalization of disadvantaged communities. While the issues that have caused the largest displacement of people in a century are complex and variegated, further disenfranchising desperate populations will only abet the very terrorists that have contributed to refugees’ plight.

Not only is a more humane treatment necessary to promote the general social good, but it’s integral to any meaningful security policy designed to keep Western nations safe.

Kansas: Anti-Trans Bigotry Prioritized Over Education

(Kansas Governor Sam Brownback)

While discussion around the nation has focused on North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill” – the governor-approved legislation barring trans people from using public bathrooms corresponding to their gender – another state has slipped under the radar with regard to its own anti-trans actions.

The Kansas state legislature concluded its 2016 legislative session on Wednesday, June 1 with a resolution opposing the Obama Administration’s federal guidelines stipulating restroom equality for transgender students in schools. Conspicuously absent from the legislature’s final priorities was the impending crisis facing the state’s struggling school system, which may not open for the coming school year pending a case before the state’s Supreme Court.

Kansas has struggled to pay for state services since its governor, Sam Brownback, has crusaded for zero income tax and other policies designed to slash government revenue in the name of small government. As a result, education inequality has worsened, resulting in a case brought by four poor school districts alleging that the state government has actively neglected lower-income students.

The state Supreme Court issued a demand that the government treat all districts equitably. In response, lawmakers effectively reshuffled funds without adding any revenue for school funding or fundamentally addressing the inequalities at the heart of the issue.

After all, with the continued implementation of the governor’s stridently anti-tax agenda, where could lawmakers possibly find the additional public dollars necessary for effectively dealing with the discrepancies in educational funding?

The court maintains that the funding system is unconstitutional and thus void, meaning that the entire state’s educational system is bereft of funding. If lawmakers do not successfully meet the court’s criteria for a just and equitably funded educational system, the state’s schools will not open for the next school year for want of a legally recognized framework.

Kansas consistently ranks among the bottom states for educational quality. With the highly partisan, bigoted shenanigans of today’s Kansas state legislature, that’s a very unsurprising fact.

What makes the present situation so infuriating is the insult to injury of the legislature’s anti-transgender resolution. How, in a period of turmoil in which the very basic rights of the state’s children are under threat, could elected officials prioritize state-persecution of a minority group?

That’s the question worth asking Kansas’ elected officials.

6 Artist Reactions to the N.C. Bathroom Bill

(Bruce Springsteen cancelled a North Carolina performance in protest of the discriminatory HB2, also known as the bathroom bill)

Since North Carolina passed HB2 – legislation colloquially known as the bathroom bill that prohibits transgender individuals from using restrooms that correspond to their gender -there has been immense blowback.

Initially designed as a ill-conceived response to an ordinance passed by the city of Charlotte that granted explicit permission for the transgender community to exercise this basic right, the law has resulted in a legal battle between North Carolina and the federal government. The Department of Justice has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the state, and has threatened to slash federal funding for North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina. The governor and other high-ranking officials chose to respond with a lawsuit of their own, making it official: HB2  is not only the latest attempt at state-sanctioned discrimination against a historically marginalized group, but also a complete waste of public tax dollars.

Once again, resources that could work toward the Social Good are instead used to prop up inequality and create social division.

In addition to the federal government’s swift response, a number of other organizations, companies, and public figures have staked their own positions, either protesting the law, supporting pro-equality groups, or boycotting North Carolina until the discriminatory measure is repealed. The list of businesses that have boycotted the state grows every week, and as of this writing includes Paypal, Deutsche Bank, General Electric, Hyatt, Hewlett Packard, Whole Foods, Levis Strauss & Co., and Lionsgate.

Artists, too, have made their opinions heard in one way or another. Here are 6 examples of artists and groups voicing their support for the transgender community and the nonprofit groups supporting greater equality in North Carolina and beyond.

1) Bruce Springsteen – The Boss decided to cancel a show scheduled in Greensboro in protest of the law, releasing the following statement:

To my mind, [HB 2 is] an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress. Right now, there are many groups, businesses, and individuals in North Carolina working to oppose and overcome these negative developments.Taking all of this into account, I feel that this is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters. As a result, and with deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro, we have canceled our show scheduled for Sunday, April 10th. Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them.

2) Itzhak Perlman – The renowned Israeli-American violinist joined ranks with Springsteen, announcing that he would not follow though with a May performance in Raleigh with the North Carolina Symphony. For an artist representing an underfunded art form, the move is quite bold. The virtuoso explained his decision to NPR, stating that he intended to go through with the performance so long as he was permitted to donate his fee to Equality North Carolina, a nonprofit organization working for equality, and publicly explain his reasoning. The symphony informed him that the state would now allow such a statement. That’s when he made up his mind:

I thought, ‘I am going into a hostile situation.’ And that’s when I said, ‘As much as I hate to cause problems and stress, I have to have a stand. I’m canceling.’

3) Animal Collective – The popular electronic-indie group may not have canceled any performances over the bathroom bill, but have instead released a pair of live albums intended to raise money for North Carolina-based organizations fighting to reverse HB2. The band wrote an explanation to fans:

We felt that canceling our [Asheville] show, like many others have done in protest of this law, would be a disappointment to our fans and decided to go on with the performance. That being said, we don’t condone or agree with any type of bigotry or discrimination…For those who were at the show, you may have seen a table set up for Progress NC, who we were introduced to by NC Needs You. They are an organization ‘dedicated to being a voice for forward-thinking North Carolinians who want to protect the balanced approach to government.

4) Beyoncé – International pop sensation Beyoncé voiced her opposition to HB2, releasing a statement in support of Equality North Carolina. The singer appealed to fans to donate or volunteer for the organization in order to make a difference on behalf of the transgender community. Her statement reads in part:

It all began earlier this year when Charlotte passed a decree expanding North Carolina’s anti-discrimination laws allowing LGBT people protection in places of public accommodation. The ordinance, which was set to go into effect on April 1st, would allow transgender people to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify as, amongst other progressive rights.

Rather than accepting the progression in LGBT rights, that same night, legislators returned to the state house to overrule the ordinance that would ban discrimination against LGBT people…Among the many organizations doing the good work to get this bill overturned, there is Equality NC, a local organization dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) North Carolinians.

5) Maroon 5 – The popular pop band headed by singer Adam Levine announced that they, too, would be canceling North Carolina performances – in both Charlotte and Raleigh – in response to HB2. In a statement posted online, the band expressed regret – but also their resolve – in making the decision:

We have announced that we will be canceling our upcoming shows in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina because of the recent passage of the HB2 legislation. This was a difficult decision for us to make as a band. We don’t want to penalize our fans in North Carolina by not I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.performing for them, but in the end it comes down to what we feel is morally right.

6) Against Me! – The critically acclaimed art-punk has no plans to cancel an upcoming show in North Carolina. The band’s lead singer Laura Jane Grace – an outspoken transgender woman passionate about social activism – responded on Twitter to questions as to whether her band would cancel a May performance in Durham: “It was suggested to me in an interview that we might cancel our May 15th show in Durham, NC because of the states HB2 bill. Hell no!”

She elaborated further on the decision for Buzzfeed:

I’m going to create an event around the show as a form of protest to say that despite whatever stupid laws they enact, trans people are not going to be scared. They are not going to go away.

Germany Poised to Annul Convictions of Gay Men

(Participants in Cologne’s 2014 Gay Pride March)

The Federal Republic of Germany took a positive step toward atonement this week, as the government announced that it would annul convictions of homosexuality left over from a now repealed law known as Paragraph 175. The annulments will apply to the convictions of more than 50,000 men.

The law was first put in place toward the end of the 19th century, though was half-heartedly enforced, especially in Berlin where gay culture thrived compared to other European capitals during the first quarter of the 20th century. Under the Nazi regime, however, gay Germans faced fierce prosecution, with many sentenced to castration and over 15,000 sent to concentration camps where Nazi authorities compelled them to wear pink triangles to distinguish themselves.

Following WWII, West German authorities left the law in place, maintaining a persecutory environment that greatly harmed Germany’s gay citizens. While the law was largely defanged in 1969, the government did not take the full leap in reconciling itself with the nation’s history of anti-gay sentiment and policy. For instance, while most survivors of German crimes against humanity during the Nazi terror received some form of reparations by the late 1960s, those prosecuted for homosexuality did not.

Paragraph 175 was fully repealed in 1994.

While the LGBT rights movement has secured major victories over the past several decades, even gay-friendly nations have not addressed past human rights transgressions committed out of anti-gay animus. In 2013, British Queen Elizabeth II granted a post-humous pardon for Alan Turing – the brilliant mathematician depicted in the 2014 film The Imitation Game who was prosecuted for homosexual acts in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration. He died shortly thereafter. The pardon occurred after an online petition called for the restoration of Turing’s good standing. A mass pardon for thousands of men similarly convicted, however, was put on hold in 2015 after members of the Tories claimed that the pardon would benefit those convicted of pedophilia.

Anti-Choice Laws Spur Backchannel Abortions

(Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson)

A haunting trend has emerged in Google search behavior among U.S. citizens, indicating the effects of anti-choice legislation sweeping across the country in recent years.

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz discusses an alarming uptick in search queries for alternative means to terminate pregnancies.

The state with the highest search rate for backchannel abortion methods is Mississippi, the state with perhaps the most stringent anti-choice legislation in the books. State lawmakers have passed measures that place onerous requirements on abortion clinics, raising near-insurmountable bureaucratic and financial hurdles that effectively drive them out of operation. The state has one remaining clinic, which could face closure in a case before the supreme court.

Mississippi officials state that the anti-choice law is “medically legitimate health and safety regulation,” which arose from “highly publicized reports of deaths and injuries involving abortion facilities across the country that raised serious doubts as to the safety of women undergoing abortion procedures.”

Research has proven that women are 14 times more likely to die from childbirth.

In the op-ed, Stephens-Davidowitz breaks down the list of search phrases – beginning with seemingly more benign queries including “buy abortion pills online” and “free abortion pills,” and entering decidedly more harrowing territory.

“How to self-abort,” “how to have a miscarriage,” and “how to do a coat hanger abortion” are increasingly common search phrases.

Mississippi is by no means alone. Texas is party to another supreme court case that calls into question the constitutionality of similiar legislation that has shuttered all but a handful of clinics across the state, the second most populous in the nation. Other states have gone after women’s healthcare provides such as Planned Parenthood, which was recently defunded at the sate-level in Ohio through anti-choice legislation signed into law by  Governor John Kasich.

Planned Parenthood has become target number one for anti-choice activists, most evidently in the widely discredited, heavily doctored videos disseminated by the organization Center for Medical Progress, which is now under investigation for its libelous actions.

As nonprofits and fundraisers respond to these threats to women’s healthcare and basic rights, Key Elements Group will provide ongoing coverage.

AT&T Star Steps Up for Syrian Refugees

(Milana Vayntrub speaking at VidCon 2012. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Following a recent trip to Greece, Milana Vayntrub – the actress who plays the buoyant shop clerk in AT&T commercials – has found a new cause: the Syrian refugee crisis.

The actress was once a refugee herself, fleeing Russia as a child in the 1980s. In an essay for the website Popsugar, she writes:

My family fled the Soviet Union because of hostile circumstances for Jews in the late ’80s. I was too young to remember details of the yearlong journey, but my parents have told me stories about the poverty and constant uncertainty they faced before we were lucky enough to settle in Los Angeles.

With this experience in mind, Vayntrub was struck by the plight of Syrian refugees in Greece, who often risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean on rafts. According to the European Union’s border control agency – Frontex – 131,724 people have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2016. The vast majority of these refugees have arrived in Greece, a nation still in the throes of a debt crisis and bruising austerity imposed by EU fiat. The prime minister of Germany Angela Merkel has recently underscored the additional assistance that the Hellenic Republic needs to cope with the ongoing crisis.

In her essay, Vayntrub describes the scenes in Greece that compelled her to not only ditch her vacation and help in the moment, but to also create a new nonprofit as well:

I’d never seen anything like it. As we rushed to the shore, people stepped off the rafts, some in tears, some celebrating. They passed their children off the boat to volunteers before jumping into the water themselves. Some people collapsed as they got off the boat because their legs had gone numb from spending an hour with 50 people on a raft only meant to carry a dozen. On the shore, volunteer doctors checked the babies’ temperatures and dried them off. I tried to contain my shock and concern, focusing on greeting people with a smile and a warm hug.

Moved by the experience, Vayntrub founded #CantDoNothing, a nonprofit campaign to raise awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis and to raise money for affiliated organizations working to ameliorate migrants’ tenuous and dire situation.

“I learned a lot in Greece,” writes Vayntrub, “One of the biggest lessons was that everyone has something powerful and important to contribute — something that can make the world a little (or a lot) better.”

Read the whole essay here and visit #CantDoNothing to learn how you can help.

Syrian Refugees: Europe Struggles to Cope

(A Hungarian police officer stands in front of Syrian refugees made to disembark a train en route to Germany)

Tensions are mounting in Europe, where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have sought stability and security after fleeing their home country, which is embroiled in an ongoing civil war fought amongst a dizzying array of factions.

On Monday, French authorities cleared a highly publicized refugee camp in Calais – a town situated on the English Channel in the north of France.

The camp in Calais – pejoratively known as “the jungle” and housing an estimated 4,000 migrants from across the Middle East and Africa – was torn down following a court order that denied an appeal filed by nonprofit organizations that sought to stay the order. While many of the residences inside the camp were destroyed, the order prevented the demolition of religious centers, schools, and medical facilities set up in the area.

One photo taken of the eviction shows a camp resident holding a sign that reads “we are not terrorists so don’t destroy our homes” as he flees a water canon deployed by French authorities against migrants protesting the camp’s demolition.

The government’s decision to destroy the camp essentially kicks the can down the road, as European governments continue to drag their feet on a united and comprehensive plan to deal with the refugee influx.

Many migrants – especially young refugees – have already moved to a camp located in Dunkirk, which nonprofits say has even worse conditions and poses a serious sanitation emergency with about one toilet for every 100 refugees. Mathieu Balthazard – an aid worker with Médecins Sans Frontières, one of the non-governmental organizations working to help refugees – remarked on the makeshift community in Dunkirk:

It is truly exceptional to see a camp like this. I have seen a camp in Ethiopia which had mud like this, but here it is worse: there is less organization. It is becoming more and more shocking every day.

While many refugees have been accepted by EU member countries, there are a number of signs that individual governments are at the breaking point. Sweden – famed for its strong humanitarian position and open border policy for refugees – has enacted identity checks on trains and border crossings and has announced plans to stop accepting new refugees. Austria has introduced border controls. Italy and Greece – cash-strapped EU member states that have borne the brunt of the crisis – received more than 110,000 refugees in the first two months of 2016 alone.

Outside of logistical issues posed by what some analysts are calling the greatest displacement of people since WWII, the influx of Syrian refugees has stoked racial tension, with far-right nationalist politics on the ascent across Europe. In Germany, there have been more than 200 arson attacks on refugee centers, raising eyebrows in a country that – in acknowledgement of its role in the Holocaust – has long boasted a strong track record on tolerance and the respect of human rights.

While governments struggle to muster a unified response to the crisis, there are many organizations and individuals stepping up to ensure that migrants stuck in this tortuous limbo receive bare necessities including food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Charity Navigator has a list of vetted, highly credible organizations working to ease the plight of Syrian migrants. A number of US organizations are stepping up as well, accepting donations to help provide basic needs assistance and educational opportunities for children caught up in the crisis.

UN Reps. Decry State of Gender Equality in US

A visit to the United States by three UN representatives has cast a gloomy picture of gender equality in the wealthy nation, highlighting a number of issues in which the global super power lags behind the rest of the world with regard to women’s rights.

Featuring human rights experts from Poland, the United Kingdom, and Costa Rica, the delegation visited three U.S. states in the lead up to a larger report. The team was not impressed, citing a number of economic and health issues that need urgent attention.

Looking at cultural attitudes and government policies, the UN representatives visited Alabama, Texas, and Oregon in order to assess a variety areas vital for women’s equality. According to Frances Raday – the representative from the United Kingdom – there is a widespread misconception of just how advanced the United States is in terms of human rights:  “So many people really believe that U.S. women are way better off with respect to rights than any woman in the world.”

She said they would exclaim, “What do you mean other people have paid maternity leave?”

Indeed, the absence of paid maternity leave is a hot-button issue, highlighted this year by the popular HBO comedian and cultural commentator John Oliver.

The United States embarrassingly joins only two other nations in the world in not guaranteeing workplace accommodation for women before, during, and after pregnancy.

But the delegates found a number of other problems as well, including women’s access to quality and essential healthcare services. In Alabama, the three were targeted when they visited an abortion clinic: “We were harassed. There were two vigilante men waiting to insult us,” said Raday, discussing verbal abuse dispensed by protesters at the clinic.

“It’s a kind of terrorism. To us, it was shocking,” added the Polish delegate Eleonora Zielinska.

Gender Pay Gap

Other areas of concern included the 23 percent pay gap between men and women, the treatment of female migrants in detention, and gun violence.

In the United States, women are 11 times more likely to die from gun violence than any other high-income nation.

They also remarked on the underrepresentation of women in government. In order to more equitably represent gender in government, the team suggested campaign finance reform, commenting on how the mega donors that dominate politics are primarily men funding other men.

In a separate move earlier this month, the UN working group on the discrimination of women lamented that the polarization of U.S. politics has prevented the nation from signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

These news stories are concerning. As the United States verbally supports women’s rights internationally, there are basic protections for the country’s female citizens missing.

Where political polarization and discord leave women exposed, nonprofits can fill the void. Passionate nonprofit professionals fight for women’s health care and representation in society every day, and require ongoing support until a more equitable society is secured that entitles all genders to just treatment.

Refugee Relief Efforts Face Bankruptcy

(Photo: Arbat Transit Camp for Syrian Refugees in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan)

As part of our ongoing coverage of the global refugee crisis, today we look at how UN agencies are quickly running out of cash and consequently edging closer to bankruptcy.

In an interview with The Guardian, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres relayed a dim situation marked by increased need and declining budgets:

If you look at those displaced by conflict per day, in 2010 it was 11,000; last year there were 42,000. This means a dramatic increase in need, from shelter to water and sanitation, food, medical assistance, education. The budgets cannot be compared with the growth in need. Our income in 2015 will be around 10% less than in 2014. The global humanitarian community is not broken – as a whole they are more effective than ever before. But we are financially broke.

As world governments struggle to cope with the glut in refugees fleeing war torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, it is unclear how aid agencies will be able to raise the necessary funds to keep aid programs afloat. The Syria Regional Response Plan – the overarching program to assist Syrians displaced by their nation’s intractable civil war – is barely 23 percent funded. Funding across the board is inadequate: relief efforts in Yemen are only 20 percent funded, programs to help internally displaced populations in Iraq are only 30 percent funded, and aid for Nepal earthquake victims is currently only 33 percent of the overall projected amount necessary.

Budget shortfalls take a large toll on refugees’ living standards, with UN agencies and aid providers cutting food rations and medical services. Refugees from Darfur received the distressing news that their food rations may end toward the end of the year. The World Food Program – the UN’s food agency – will suspend aid to 1.7 million Syrians because of funding shortages. Considering that displaced peoples possess virtually no means to generate income or sustenance, these realities pose tall and difficult challenges.

Unlike other arms of the UN, humanitarian efforts do not receive regular contributions from world governments. In other words, relief agencies – including the UNHCR and Unicef – depend on additional voluntary gifts from governments, as well as philanthropic contributions from individual global citizens.

Underfunded programs impact ongoing crises in a number of ways. Refugees that make the risky and potentially fatal trip by boat to Greece’s archipelago have told frontline UNHCR workers that they were compelled to flee camps in Jordan because of a dearth of food rations, declining living conditions, and the fraught and tense situation with native residents resulting from these worsening social conditions. This means that underfunded aid programs contribute to the mass migration fanning out through the Middle East and Europe.

Additionally, analysts are concerned that harrowing camp conditions could be a large boon for extremist organizations. Reports from refugee camps inside Turkey indicate that ISIS recruiters operate with relative impunity, attracting disaffected and hungry refugees lured by the promise of steady pay and food.

The amount of funding needed to fully support relief programs will unlikely come from private and voluntary gifts The total necessary is simply too high. Guterres and others are openly calling for reform that would require governments to contribute more mandatory funding for relief efforts. The commissioner remarked that to not “spend more on humanitarian aid is a bad strategy, not to say a suicidal one.” As programs begin unraveling due to the stress of higher demand sapping fewer resources, relief programs may indeed make situations even worse than they currently are.

Marriage Equality: An Amazing Achievement

In a dramatic success for the gay and lesbian communities, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that  same-sex marriage is legal across the nation, making the United States the 20th country to enshrine marriage equality on the national level.

Some activists expressed surprise that the nation has come so far over the last several decades. Social views on equality have certainly evolved at a dramatic clip. Over the last 20 years, approval of same-sex marriage leapt from 27 percent to 60 percent.

There is still much work to be done, however, as campaigners for pro-LGBTQ organizations point out.

For example, LGBTQ individuals can still be fired or evicted from their homes in a majority of states in the absence of a federal law barring such discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Another pressing issue is gay conversion therapy – an unscientific and, what critics argue, cruel process that is supposed change an individual’s sexual orientation. A recent court in New Jersey found that the process constitutes consumer fraud, yet the practice continues across the country.

Health risks are also at the forefront of the conversation. In one poll, 41 percent of trans and gender non-conforming youth have attempted suicide. That compares to a 4.6 percent overall suicide rate in the United States.  The Trevor Project – a nonprofit suicide prevention organizations geared toward LGBTQ youth – is working on this dire issue, but significant philanthropic work needs to be done in order to make a real impact.

These and other problems notwithstanding, the Supreme Court ruling reflects a monumental achievement for equality campaigners, and reflects a sea change in U.S. social views that is much more inclusive and fair to people of all genders and sexual orientations.

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