Mississippi has its share of policies that subject LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus all of the gender identities and sexual orientations that are not specifically covered by the other five initials) persons to discrimination, from the prejudiced Religious Liberty Accommodations Act, to the most recent anti-trans student-athlete law, and more.
The opportunity for institutions, businesses, and individuals to turn their backs on our community leaves many of us seeking help to combat the bias. Based on these policies and a general misunderstanding and stigma felt by the queer community, we at the ACLU of Mississippi felt that a legal aid clinic is exactly what we need to fight for the civil rights of LGBTQ Mississippians.
If you google 'LGBTQ attorney Mississippi,' the second webpage that pops up is the ACLU of Mississippi's announcement of the launch of our LGBTQ Justice Project. The rest of the search results are lacking, as there are no comprehensive lists of gay-friendly attorneys. It's remarkable that our new initiative is so easily discoverable to anyone searching for help, however, this finding tells me the options are slim for LGBTQ Mississippians seeking professional counsel from someone they can confidently trust to handle their case with care and respect.
In just two months with the ACLU of Mississippi, I've seen very clearly the drastic need for an LGBTQ-specific law clinic, and LGBTQ cultural competency training for legal professionals. Still to this day in Mississippi, gay tenants are evicted, nonbinary and bisexual students are bullied, and transgender people are denied medical care because of who they are. That's why I'm honored about eager to lead this project.
The LGBTQ Justice Project seeks to broaden the eyes of legal professionals in Mississippi, and use that same power to impact policy. This free legal clinic offers service to LGBTQ-identifying people in issues related to family law, civil rights, consumer law, housing, and employment discrimination. The project also acts as a resource for attorneys and the legal community on LGBTQ issues, an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ individuals, and as a vessel for bringing forth impact litigation.
We believe the LGBTQ Justice Project is the first of its kind in Mississippi, and it certainly fills an important need.
As a proud bi woman and Mississippian, I hope to make a change that will show our fellow Mississippians that y'all really does mean all.