Blog  Kutz Camp Teen Activists Lobby NY State Legislators to Support GENDA

Kutz Camp Teen Activists Lobby NY State Legislators to Support GENDA

The teen activists of the URJ Kutz Camp, who participated in Alison Stamm’s Political Advocacy minor last week, created these slideshows as a way to lobby NY State Legislators on the issue of transgender rights. They urged NY State Assemblyman Brabenec & NY State Senator Bonacic to support the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (A.4558-A/Gottfried)(S.61-A/Squadron).

The bill to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression in housing, employment, credit and public accommodations would also expand the state’s hate crimes law to explicitly include crimes against transgender New Yorkers.74% of transgender New Yorkers experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and roughly 1/3 of transgender New Yorkers have been homeless at one time.

This is a life and death issue and this bill is long overdue. The majority of New Yorkers already support this legislation.

78% of those polled said they want to protect the civil rights of transgender people.

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) would bring New York up to speed with the one third of the country that already offers these protections.

As Reform Jews, we fell strongly about this issue because it falls in line with our Jewish values, namely:

Kavod: Respect
Judaism teaches us to treat ourselves and others with respect; even the stranger is to be treated with respect. Kavod is a feeling of regard for the rights, dignity, feelings, wishes, and abilities of others. Teasing and name-calling disrespect and hurt everyone, so learn to respect people’s differences.

B’Tzelem Elohim: In God’s Image
The Torah tells us that we are all created “b’Tzelem Elohim”(Bereshit 1:26), in the image of God. This is a simple and profound idea that should guide our interactions with all people. If we see each person as created in the image of God, we can see humanity and dignity in all people. True inclusion is built upon this foundation.

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh: Communal Responsibility
The Jewish principle that “All Israel is responsible for one another”(Shavuot 39a) means each of us must take action and inspire others to create a community in which we can all take pride.

V’ahavta L’Reiacha Kamocha: “Love your neighbor as yourself”
Commenting on Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Rabbi Hillel once stated that this was the foundational value of the Torah. It begins with loving ourselves. We must love and accept our whole selves, and in doing so create the capacity for extending that love and acceptance to others.


This post was originally published on the URJ Kutz Camp blog.