August 9, 2018 at 8:16 am EST | by Blake Chambers
Biden launches campaign promoting LGBTQ acceptance
Biden Foundation, Ireland, gay news, Washington

The Biden Foundation, founded by former Vice President Joe Biden, launched the As You Are campaign this week. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key).

The Biden Foundation on Tuesday introduced “As You Are: A Family and Community Acceptance Campaign,” aimed at boosting the acceptance of LGBTQ youth by their families. The family and community acceptance campaign will collect personal stories from LGBTQ young people, siblings, parents, educators and social service providers among others to educate and inform about the potential harms associated with family and community rejection along with the importance of accepting, affirming and supporting of LGBTQ youth.

“While we must continue working to pass laws and implement policies that protect LGBTQ youth across the spectrum of their lives, laws and policies are not enough,” said Emily Hecht-McGowan, the Biden Foundation’s director of LGBTQ Equality. “We must also change hearts and minds, and we know that personal stories are the single best tool we have to do that.”

On the “As You Are” page on the Biden Foundation’s website, a YouTube video can be viewed featuring Vice President Biden, Amit Paley, Shéár Avory, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah Mikhail, Clara Yoon, Wade Davis, Geena Rocero and Hecht-McGowan speaking out on the importance of the campaign and issuing a call to action for people to share their stories. An online questionnaire is on the page for those looking to share their experiences with family and community acceptance and/or rejection. The questionnaire also asks those who are answering why family and community acceptance is important to them.

The Biden Foundation is looking to share these stories in the hopes that they will “serve to inspire, to create communities, to heal families and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people.”

“Family acceptance can save lives. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. And 40 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming adults report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, most of them before the age of 25,” said Paley, the CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, in a statement. “That’s why it is so important to support LGBTQ youth and let them know that they are not alone.”

In a tweet from the Human Rights Campaign calling on people to share their story with the “As You Are” campaign, the organization noted that only 13 percent of LGBTQ teens reported hearing positive messages in school and that no one should be made to feel ashamed and afraid of who they are. The “As You Are” campaign’s website has been shared by Vice President Biden’s official Twitter as well, using the hashtag #AsYouAre and saying that LGBTQ youth should never have to face being rejected by those who love them.

Biden has been a notable advocate of LGBTQ issues, saying that transgender equality is “the civil rights issue of our time” in the foreword of Human Rights Campaign National Press Secretary Sarah McBride’s memoir and saying the government would continue to fight for the rights of the LGBT community after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in 2015.

“The Foundation was established in early 2017, to build upon Vice President and Dr. Biden’s lifelong commitment to the fundamental principle that everyone deserves to be treated equally and to live with dignity,” Hecht-McGowan told the Blade. “Now more than ever is a time to stand up and fight for these ideals and to make sure that LGBTQ young people know that they are supported and valued and that they too have a fair shot at the American dream.”

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