LGBTQ Advocacy

Shared at the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Business Meeting,

June 5th, 2016

County Supervisors, thank you for the opportunity to speak.

My name is Reverend Anya Sammler-Michael and I serve the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling.

Partisan affiliation in our congregation includes Democrat and Republican, and yet we are a welcoming and affirming congregation for LGBT individuals. Why? Because we do not see welcoming and affirming as a partisan issue, but as the fulfillment of our commitment to honor the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.

Neither, I hope, will you see, the vote before you, to name April as LGBT pride month as a partisan motion. It is a public safety motion.

This past year, four teens committed suicide in Loudoun. This is a jump from the usual one per year.

• Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. [1]

• LGBT youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely to commit

suicide as their straight peers. [2]

I repeat, the vote before you is not a partisan motion but a public safety motion.

Our youth struggle to see their own inherent worth and dignity, and out of desperation take their own lives. Pride in oneself is not arrogant, it is life saving.

Our youth (all of them) and especially the most vulnerable need to be reminded that they are loved, worthy, (and my faith begs me add: children of God.)

Supervisor Estrada, you shared: “resolutions should be given to people and groups based on their achievements.” I agree, and I believe that LGBT youth make great achievements every day that they rise to meet an often unwelcoming, and downright bigoted world, with a commitment to live, and serve the larger community.

The Loudoun Communities that Care Youth Study of 2009 assessed the Behavioral Risk Factors that led to anti-social behavior including violence to oneself or others and resolved that lack of attachment to a community was one of the two most important factors putting students at risk. [3]

Our LGBTQ youth need a reason to attach to our community, our Loudoun County. So I implore you to see beyond the often blinding specter of partisan politics and remember that you have been elected to serve all of our citizens.

Thank you.

[1] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) {2013 Aug. 1}. Available 

[2] CDC. (2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.