How to Start a Movement | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

How to Start a Movement

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Movements come in all forms and causes. In the past decade, gay-rights activists in Mississippi have joined forces to end discrimination for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) population and advocate for equal rights. Sarah Young, ACLU outreach coordinator, says that to create a successful movement, it's important to engage all stakeholders through dialogue and create opportunities for change to occur, no matter how small that change is. She also stresses the importance of assembling resources such as time, money and materials to accomplish a goal. "Of course it doesn't stop there: movement building is life work, not a 9-to-5 job," Young says. Below are many of the people and organizations who make up the LGBT movement in Mississippi.

Uniting to end hate, discrimination & unequal rights for the LGBT community

Knol Aust, founding member and chairman of Unity Mississippi
• Uses design and marketing skills in print and Web technologies to organize and unite the LGBT community and its allies on many fronts.

Brent Cox, public education coordinator at ACLU of Missisippi
• Uses legal expertise to help protect LGBT rights.

Ceara Sturgis, lesbian student at Wesson Attendance Center
•Spoke out against school officials when she was not allowed to wear a tuxedo in the school's yearbook photo.
• Represented by the ACLU in a lawsuit against Copiah County school district.

Sarah Young, New Voices Fellow and outreach coordinator at ACLU, program coordinator at MSSC
•Uses community-organizing skills to effect system-wide change on behalf of LGBTs.

Ambrose Tabb, student at Jim Hill High School
• Member of MSSC, works with students to promote awareness of LGBT issues.

American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi
http://www.aclu-ms.org

• Takes legal action on behalf of LGBTs .
• Educates the public and raises awareness on LGBT rights.
• Promotes legislation that protects LGBT rights.

Unity Mississippi
http://www.unityms.org

• Organizes unique social, entertainment and educational events for LGBTs such as OUToberfest.
• Serves as information resource for the LGBT community, press and community-at-large.
• Organizes actions, rallies and protests in response to actions against LGBTs.

Safe Harbor Family Church
http://safeharborfamilychurch.org/

601-923-2728
• Offers commitment ceremonies for homosexual couples.
• Offers LGBT playgroup for parents.
• Hosts workshops and an interfaith service at OUToberfest.

Jackson National Organization for Women
http://www.Jacksonnowms.org

• Monitors the state Legislature to make sure the rights of women and LGBT Mississippians are not challenged or taken away.

My Brother's Keeper
http://www.mbk-inc.org

• Works with the African American community for prevention, care and treament for person's living with HIV/AIDS.

Queer Youth Advisory Board
•Governing body that works with ACLU

Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition
• Educates LGBT people on their constitutional rights.
• Offers counseling, advice and information for students, teachers, parents, administrators and anyone else who wants to change their school's environment.
• Hosted the Mississippi Queer & Allies Youth Summit in October for educators and students about sexual-orientation bullying.

Family and Friends Pride Coalition
• Creates a community for LGBT students and allies at Millsaps College.
• Raises awareness through Pride Week and other events.
• Educates the LGBT community about HIV/AIDS and encourages people to apply their knowledge at Grace House and other places in the community.

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