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Message From President Riley About the Importance of Pride Month and The Supreme Court Ruling On Workplace Protections for Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Individuals

Pride logo

As we celebrate PRIDE Month, and as thousands across the nation continue the fight for a more equitable society, we remember the struggles to get here. Though many PRIDE Month celebratory activities have been postponed due to COVID-19 preventive measures, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University stands proudly with the LGBTQ+ community. We remain committed to diversity and inclusive excellence in the recruitment of students, faculty, staff, as well as the development, promotion, and retention of our entire community.

On June 15, 2020, almost 51 years to the date of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the United States Supreme Court handed down a sweeping landmark ruling that gay, lesbian, and transgender people cannot be discriminated against in the workplace simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The decision affirms that the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person's sex, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status. This ruling is a watershed and timely event for the LGBTQ community, particularly as it is against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and national protests highlighting many of our society’s inequities.

The United States is also at an intersection of challenges that have illuminated the social and health inequalities that transgender individuals face. Marsha Johnson, a black transgender woman, and leading figure in the Stonewall riots, paved the way for liberation through unrelenting cries of frustration, inequality, and discrimination, fighting for equal treatment for the LGBTQ community.

This recent ruling is a fitting and deserving victory that in the 51 years since members of the LGBTQ community rebelled during the Stonewall riots, they are now assured equal protections afforded to every United States citizen as ascribed in the Constitution.

We hope that you will take a few minutes to enjoy the SUNY PRIDE Marching Band’s Virtual Celebration at https://youtu.be/7KMQcc_osSE, and Chancellor Johnson’s Pride 2020 message https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhvYL3oHaKw.

Please also join SUNY for an online event to honor and support LGBTQ+ people of color who are doing tireless work with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We invite you to Register Now for a live Zoom conversation, At the Intersection of LGBTQ+ and #BLM Activism: Stonewall to SUNY on the new date of July 1st from 3:00-4:30 PM.

Any individual who believes they have experienced discrimination should immediately contact the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) at (718) 270-1738 or by email at AskODI@Downstate.edu.