Pro-equality advocates are making sure their voices are being heard in Michigan. Just this past weekend GLAAD hosted a media training, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, to train individuals from various organizations from around the state on how to talk to the media. GLAAD, in two separate sessions, media trained more than 30 individuals from organizations such as the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission and MI-GOAL (Gay Officers Action League), on how to build effective communications strategies as well as how to help people from the community share their stories with the media. Work such as this has become increasingly important in Michigan as it remains perfectly legal to fire an employee based on his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Michigan is one of 18 states that do not include sexual orientation in their hate crimes law and one of 22 states that do not include gender identity or gender expression in their hate crimes law. GLAAD also helped Equality Michigan’s Executive Director Denise Brogan –Kator get an op-ed placed in The Detroit Free Press to address the need for the state’s legislature to protect students. In the article Get Tougher about School Bullying, Kator urges the legislature to pass an enumerated safe schools bill that would protect students from being picked on for their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. She writes:
As parents, teachers and voters, we have a collective responsibility to make sure that all students, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, have access to a learning environment that prepares them for success and is free from harassment and bullying. We also have a responsibility to our children and to their future to lead by example and demand that lawmakers take swift action to protect all of Michigan's students. Our elected officials have ignored instructions from Gov. Rick Snyder, and clear recommendations from the Michigan State Board of Education, to produce a comprehensive anti-bullying bill. Even the recently proposed Senate Bill137, introduced in June, fails our students. It doesn't require schools to adopt policies that clearly outline protected categories and spell out the ways in which teachers should report incidents of bullying and harassment.GLAAD applauds LGBT community advocates in Michigan for their continued push for equality.