Post submitted by Steve Newsome, a volunteer leader with the HRC Greater Cincinnati steering committee
One year ago, the people of Cincinnati awoke to news of a tragic death that took place in our own community. Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old teenager from Kings Mills, died by suicide and posted a note on her Tumblr explaining her decision. Her final words called on all of us to “fix society” and to fight injustice.
For many of us, those next few weeks were extremely painful. As Cincinnati’s LGBT community mourned the loss of yet another one of our youth, we learned the shocking facts surrounding Leelah’s home life, which included being subjected to the abusive practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”
In the year since Leelah’s passing, the leadership of Cincinnati has taken action. With the direction of City Councilmember Chris Seelbach, as well as the support of Heartland Trans Wellness Group, local members of the Human Rights Campaign, and many others, the city has taken important steps forward, including passing both transgender-inclusive health benefits for city workers, as well as a local ban on the shameful practice of conversion therapy.
As a city, we have not yet fulfilled our mission, but we have made some progress. Our commitment will never fade, and our focus on Cincinnati’s LGBTQ children will never be shaken. In the year since Leelah’s passing, we are no longer satisfied by saying that “it gets better.” Now, our fight is to ensure that it does.
- If you’re a youth and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project, which provides a 24-hour crisis hotline for youth, at 1-866-488-7386.
- If you’re a teacher or parent and want more information on how to create safe and welcoming schools for all children and families, visit http://www.welcomingschools.org.
- If you’re an ally and want to learn more about transgender advocacy, visit www.hrc.org/transgender, and also the sites of the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law Center.
- If you are a youth-serving professional, please consider attending HRC Foundation’s 3rd annual Time to THRIVE conference — promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth.