4 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month 2016

Inside Leadership

4 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month 2016

Each June, we honor the movement for LGBT equality and inclusion, celebrate recent victories against discrimination and recommit to making progress surrounding LGBT issues in the future.

Pride Month happens every year in June, commemorating the Stonewall Riots. On June 28, 1969, the modern LGBT rights movement was born at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar, fought back against what had become regular and tolerated harassment by the New York City police department. The Stonewall Inn, and the uprising there, became an iconic flashpoint that helped sparked the long battle towards equality for the LGBT community.

One of the cornerstones of Jewish tradition is the belief that all human beings are created b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image (Genesis 1:27). While we take steps throughout the year to advocate for equality and inclusion of LGBT people in our communities, it is important that we take time during June to join the LGBT community in celebrating Pride month, and commit ourselves to be even more inclusive and embracing in the year ahead. 

Here are three things you can do during the month of June to honor and celebrate LGBT rights:  

1. Host a Pride Shabbat.

A Pride Shabbat service is a great opportunity to highlight LGBT inclusion. Visit the RAC’s webpage on Pride Shabbat resources for sample sermons and LGBT specific prayers, poems and readings to add to your service.

2. Advocate for LGBT rights in your community.

It was fitting that the Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality on June 26, 2015, an historic and incredibly meaningful moment, especially to happen during Pride Month. As much as marriage equality is a fundamental step toward the full equality of LGBT people in our society, LGBT still face discrimination in many aspects of their lives.

The Equality Act (H.R. 3185/S. 1858) would explicitly protect against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit and jury selection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. By amending and strengthening existing civil rights laws, LGBT people will be granted the same protections that are already provided to other groups of people (such as race and gender), and would ensure that receiving these protections is not dependent on where one lives. In honor of Pride Month, take action and urge your Members of Congress to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

3. Join your community's Pride events.

Many congregations march in local Pride parades and host special Pride-focused events in June. Check with your local congregation to learn what's going on in your area.

If you live in the Washington D.C. area, march with the Reform Movement in the Capital Pride Parade. On June 11, the staff of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism will once again be marching in Washington DC’s Pride Parade, which is the District’s biggest and most colorful festival to celebrate LGBT equality. We'd love for you to join us and D.C.-area congregations for a prayer rally, poster-making, and marching. Get more information and to register for the event.

For the third year in a row, you can also join the URJ San Francisco Bay Area Community to march together in the San Francisco Pride Parade, Sunday, June 26, 2016. Reform Jews from across the Bay Area will march together as one united group to show our solidarity with the Pride movement, proclaim our support of civil and human rights, and demonstrate our own strength in numbers. Sign up now.

4. Join the new Active Learning Network on Transgender Inclusion.

The URJ's Audacious Hospitality team and the Religious Action Center are excited to partner with Keshet and the Youth and Gender Media Project to offer a new Active Learning Network called “Building a Transgender Inclusive Community: Tools for Your Toolbox.” This program is an opportunity for Reform communities to advance their inclusion initiatives, particularly around gender diversity. Throughout this five-webinar series, participants will gain an understanding of the experiences transgender Jews have in our congregations and greater society, and will learn about opportunities to better welcome and honor people of all gender identities in Jewish communal life.

The launch of this ALN will occur during Pride Month, on Wednesday, June 8 from 12:00-1:30pm ET. In order to best prepare ourselves to create meaningful change, the first webinar will explore common terms, distinctions and life experiences relevant to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. We will learn from Patrick Rock, director of Jewish Education for the Youth and Gender Media Project, and from two transgender Jews who will share their own stories. Institutions and individuals are welcome to join us, no matter where they are on their journey toward greater LGBTQ inclusion. Register for the first webinar in the Building a Transgender Inclusive Community: Tools for Your Toolbox series, or visit www.urj.org/transinclusion.

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Tracy Wolf was a 2015-2016 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), and currently serves as the RAC's Leadership Development Associate. Originally from Syosset, N.Y., she is a member of North Shore Synagogue and a graduate of Dickinson College.

Tracy Wolf
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