LGBTQA Civic Engagement Participants Partner with Human Rights Campaign

LGBTQA Civic Engagement Participants Partner with Human Rights Campaign

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Jenna Dell
March 05, 2014

Over 25 student participants in the LGBTQA Civic Engagement project heard from national and international LGBT activists during a visit to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. TWC's LGBTQA Civic Engagement Project has partnered with HRC for the past five semesters.


As part of their civic engagement project, spring 2014 interns explored the role that religion and faith play in understanding LGBT equality. Staff and students shared personal stories and viewed “Before God: We are all Family,” a short film that documents the journey of five Latino families who are reconciling their faith with sexual orientation.


Bridget Underhill, a student from Grand Valley State University, reflected on the following: “the opportunity to openly discuss the impact of religion and LGBT rights is a rare moment. It provided an outlook on the ability of families and friends to create an open-minded safe place for folks who fear coming out. We could really pinpoint how supportive people should be and how that may or may not be related to one’s faith.” During the meeting, students also learned about international LGBT rights through HRC’s Global Engagement Program. This program “seeks to leverage HRC’s domestic LGBT work to have an international impact.”


HRC is host to two Global Fellows, Jane (TJay) Wothaya Thirikwa from Nairobi, Kenya and Tushar Malik from New Delhi, India. The LGBTQA Civic Engagement project draws both domestic and international students which led to a cross-cultural dialogue about LGBT rights abroad. Christopher Bowles, a student from University of Mount Union said, “I think people should be celebrated for being different and accepted by people of all religions, and I think that the HRC is doing a great job of getting that message across throughout the nation.”


The Washington Center produces not only future leaders in their professions but also well-informed citizens who are engaged with their communities and their world. The goal of the civic engagement projects is to allow students to become well informed about an issue they care about and then work to make a positive difference in public life at the local, national or global level. Students devote a minimum of 15 hours over the course of the semester to active learning (attending meetings, lectures and hearings) and action (advocacy or volunteering). By the end of the semester, students write a three-to-four page report reflecting on the experience and articulating how the project helped them become more informed citizens. Find out more about civic engagement efforts in TWC's current and previous terms.


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