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Over the past decade, there has been a horrifying increase in the number of violent actions taken against people who identify with the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, the most recent act is the Colorado Springs shooting at Club Q. Though the exact motive has not been established at this point, it’s clear who the target group was.

In committing this act of violence against a group of people that are publicly demeaned and scapegoated, the shooter terrorized not only the individuals in that nightclub, but everyone who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community.

Make no mistake about it, this terror rides on the coattails of the culture war being waged at the expense of those we love. Bad actors with power and influence have seized the recent victories that are the result of the long and difficult fight for acceptance and civil rights by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Talking heads and narcissistic, power-hungry politicians twist the change in tides that are a win for basic human rights into an attack on their supporter base. They deflect blame for the real material losses that their followers suffer from their own policies to imaginary bogeymen that they have projected onto trans and non-binary people. It’s inevitable that a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric would lead to a rise in violence against real people. Fear and anger breed violence.

We, as a movement, have to put a stop to these rising tensions if we want to protect our friends, family members, and neighbors. The most vulnerable among us, our young people, are suffering enormously because of the increasing hostility. The leaders of PPKey’s LGBTQ+ youth programs hear their fears and struggles first hand. They know the hardships that these kids endure solely because of their identities or who they love. They are caught in the midst of the culture war and their safety and emotional wellbeing are casualties we can’t lose sight of.

This means that we must be more strategic in our support and protection of the LGBTQ+ community. We need to cut the division off at the root. We can’t afford to let fear mongering fester in our communities, and we stop it using the same tool that we use to push back abortion stigma — compassion.

The backbone of Planned Parenthood’s philosophy is letting go of judgment and convincing others to do the same. It’s a long term strategy and it’s one that has proven effective over time. As Dr. King stated, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Our role in this time of upheaval and division is bridging the gap by having real, honest, and difficult conversations with those we’re close to. The thing is, these conversations aren’t just difficult because we need to tell people things they don’t want to hear; I’d even call that the easy part. The difficult part is being willing to understand the perspectives of people whose beliefs we disagree with. It’s only by understanding someone else’s fears that we can begin to assuage them.
We can’t fight fire with fire unless we want to burn it all down. But understanding and acknowledging someone else’s fears can help them to hear what you have to say, paving the way for you to uplift the real emotional impact of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and thereby transforming the targets of their hatred into humans.

We’re at a pivotal period in social history; a time when the need to oppose hatred and bigotry is being complicated by social media algorithms designed to amplify only the most divisive content. We must be the antidote to the fissures; careful that our response to this division is strategic, not reactive. We can do this by digging into our core values of compassion and non-judgment. Providing effective support for the LGBTQ+ community requires us to be not only vocal on these issues, but thoughtful in these interactions.

The holidays give many of us the opportunity to break bread with those across the aisle. These gatherings can turn into another venue for disunion and strife, but the other side of that coin is to become a place of exposure to new perspectives. I challenge you this month to be the bearer of new ideas. Prepare yourself ahead of time for how you will skillfully redirect a declining conversation about pronouns or trans youth in sports into a new way of seeing the world for your family members who seem hopelessly lost in their own echo chamber.

And remember that the push for justice and healing will not come in one big sweep where we defeat all the bigots. But we can hasten the healing and ensure the path moves forward every time we have a difficult conversation guided by the goal of advancing compassion.

I hope for peace and joy for you all this month and into the new year.


Kate McKee (she/her) is an artist, dog lover, and all-around creative and curious person who loves listening to edutainment podcasts and spending time with her family.

Kate studied psychology at Valencia College and has four years of formal training in fine arts with several certificates in graphic design and online marketing which she uses to advocate for reproductive rights and pro-social causes as the Director of Marketing at Planned Parenthood Keystone.

She currently lives in Reading, Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and black lab mix, Button. They will be welcoming a new member to their family this coming March.

If you are interested in writing for Planned Parenthood Keystone's newsletter, Impact Update, please reach out to Kate at [email protected].


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