Only one in 11 people know somebody who is transgender. That's why EV is creating visibility for transgender Virginians. One way to open hearts and minds, and ultimately change laws, is to create opportunities to get to know one another. EV's Transgender Advocates are out in their communities meeting with people, sharing their stories, writing blogs, and creating videos. Through EV's annual Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit (TIES) hundreds of people including transgender individuals, significant others, parents of transgender youth, and advocates come together to learn about the newest resources, take part in seminars and workshops, and bring new information back to their communities.
Businesses that have non-discrimination policies in place and ensure that LGBT employees feel safe at work have healthier, happier, and more productive employees. That's why EV is working with the business community. Through Virginia Fairness, EV highlights large and small businesses that respect and value the diversity of their customers and employees. Companies including Altria, Capital One, CarMax, Dominion, and Genworth have been recognized through the Virginia Fairness Accredited Companies program.
All students have the right to feel safe at school regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT students frequently are the subjects of harassment and bullying by peers, teachers, and school officials. Such harassment and bullying undermines the positive learning environment that schools try to create which leads to lowered self-esteem and can contribute to depression. School professionals have an obligation to provide a positive environment for all of their students, but they need to be educated on the risk and protective factors for LGBT youth and how to support these youth effectively given the unique challenges they may experience at home, school and in the community based upon their sexual orientation and gender identity. Through this program, EV works towards the adoption of anti-bullying policies within individual school districts, and insuring that these school districts have the proper resources in place to help them successfully implement said policies.
Statistics show that knowing someone within the LGBT community increases support for LGBT rights. This positive correlation makes coming out a critical component of the movement's future progress. In light of the importance of being out to the LGBT movement, Equality Virginia recognizes OUTstanding Virginians who have represented the community with distinction each year at our annual Commonwealth Dinner. OUTstanding honorees are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians who have made a mark. Some are activists whose courage and dedication to equality have influenced our movement. Others are LGBT elected officials, entertainers, or business leaders who have achieved great success. We encourage the community to nominate individuals to receive this distinct honor by sending a recommendation to the EV office or filling in the information on our website's OUTstanding Virginians page.
Every year, Equality Virginia is contacted by people from across the state who report incidences of discrimination, hate and violence. The stories of these individuals are important for a number of reasons. The courage of those that are willing to share with us their stories, help us educate everyday Virginians and public officials about the obstacles faced by our community. They prove that there is a reason for organizations like Equality Virginia to exist. They help guide us in our efforts and service to the community, and they let us know that there is still much work to be done. If you have been the victim of, or witness to, discrimination, hate or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity, please take a few moments to visit our website and tell us your story.