Gov. Evers Proclaims October 17 “Rise Up for LGBTQ Youth Day”

Governor reaffirms support for LGBTQ youth amid push for anti-LGBTQ legislation targeting trans kids

MADISON — Gov. Evers today joined GLSEN’s Rise Up for LGBTQ Youth campaign by proclaiming October 17 as “Rise Up for LGBTQ Youth Day” throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Rise Up for LGBTQ Youth campaign is bringing together advocates, educators, students, allies, and leaders across the country to celebrate LGBTQ youth and commit to combatting hateful rhetoric and policies that target LGBTQ kids and families.

“Wisconsin is home to an incredible history of LGBTQ activism and advocacy, from the Black Nite Brawl in Milwaukee to being the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said Gov. Evers. “But today, we continue to see harmful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation here in Wisconsin and across the country—rhetoric that we know only hurts our kids, emboldens hate and violence, and threatens the safety, security, and dignity of LGBTQ people.

“I want LGBTQ folks, including our trans kids, to know they are welcome, wanted, and belong here in Wisconsin, and I will keep fighting every day to continue our work to build a state where they feel safe, supported, and loved being exactly who they are.”

The governor’s announcement today comes as Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature are attempting to pass several anti-LGBTQ bills targeting transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Gov. Evers has repeatedly condemned and pledged to veto anti-LGBTQ bills that are sent to his desk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, about 70 percent of LGBTQ students report having experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and nearly 25 percent of LGBTQ students reporting having attempted suicide. In addition, according to the 2021 GLSEN National School Climate survey of Wisconsin students, LGBTQ youth in Wisconsin face harassment, including at school, with the majority of LGBTQ youth reporting they experienced bullying and negative comments from fellow students because of their identity. According to recent reporting published by the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the mere introduction and discussion of legislation targeting LGBTQ youth is harmful to their mental health. “Research shows there’s a psychological impact of these anti-LGBTQ+ bills,” said Stephanie Budge, an associate professor in counseling psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was cited in the Press-Gazette’s reporting. “Even before we consider if it passes, there’s so much harm, because it’s dehumanizing.”

Gov. Evers has a long history of standing up for the LGBTQ community—particularly LGBTQ youth—and since Day One of his administration, the governor has been committed to continuing the state’s long and proud tradition of advancing initiatives to ensure LGBTQ equity and fighting to protect, support, and celebrate LGBTQ kids and the entire LGBTQ community.

On Jan. 7, 2019, Gov. Evers’ first action after being sworn in was to sign Executive Order #1, which prohibited discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, as well as other classes such as age, race, religion, color, disability, military or veteran status, national origin, etc., in state employment, public services, state contracts, and grants. The Order also directed state agencies to develop policies to ensure all people are afforded equal opportunity, along with other measures, to prohibit discrimination and harassment.

Gov. Evers has subsequently executed additional orders to direct cabinet agencies to use gender-neutral language whenever practicable in external documents and to require the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Department of Corrections, and the Department of Children and Families to take appropriate steps to expressly disallow payment of state and federal funds allocated by their respective agencies for conversion therapy for minors.

Additionally, in June 2019, for the first time in state history, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #29 to raise the Rainbow Pride Flag over the East Wing of the Wisconsin State Capitol building and throughout the state of Wisconsin in recognition of Pride Month, sending a clear and unequivocal message that Wisconsin is a welcoming and inclusive place for all. Since then, the Rainbow Pride Flag has flown over the Capitol each year for the month of June, until last year, when Gov. Evers raised the Progress Pride Flag over the Capitol for the first time. Gov. Evers once again raised the Progress Pride Flag over the Capitol this past June to celebrate Pride Month. An iteration of the widely recognized Rainbow Pride Flag, the Progress Pride Flag was created to symbolize the inclusion of marginalized communities within the LGBTQ community.

The governor’s proclamation establishing Oct. 17, 2023, as Rise Up for LGBTQ Youth Day is available here.

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