Approve anti-discrimination laws

I’m writing this because it is so important that lawmakers pass the Virginia Values Act (SB 868 and HB 1663). The bills would modernize Virginia’s existing human rights laws and prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Virginians.

I am proud to sit on the board of the non-profit Side by Side, which works with hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth from across Central Virginia. Sadly, many of our youth face harsh school environments and discrimination in their community, which leads too many to consider ending their own lives.

One important measure in keeping LGBTQ+ youth alive is ensuring they have bright, affirming and fabulous futures. Passing nondiscrimination protections means that LGBTQ+ Virginians, including the youth we serve, will have equal protections from discrimination in employment, credit, housing and public accommodations.

This legislation may help save lives. Telling LGBTQ+ young people that “it gets better” works only if we are committed to making their future possible.

I urge lawmakers to quickly pass the Virginia Values Act. LGBTQ people are our friends, our family, our colleagues and our neighbors. We need explicit laws that protect them from discrimination in employment, housing and public spaces. Dignity and respect should never depend on who you are or who you love.

Cynthia Neff

Albemarle County

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