In June of each year, LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated. This monthly distinction is done to acknowledge and honor the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City in June of 1969. At Stonewall, supporters and gay-rights activists protested harassment and unwarranted persecution by the police and society as a whole. This week, fifty-one years later, there is another monumental event to recognize.
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of a landmark case that now guarantees members of the LGBTQ community legal protection from workplace discrimination. In somewhat of a surprising ruling, the court voted 6-3 in favor. Justice Gorsuch authored the majority opinion and if you take the time to read the majority opinion, you’ll see ample narrative that supports the notion of fair-minded critical thinking – an important teaching and learning strategy at PVCC.
In essence, the Court found that LGBTQ rights are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The minority opinion of the Court argued that the definition of “sex” as noted in the Civil Rights Act did not include sexual orientation suggesting that this was not the intent as written in 1964. Judge Gorsuch countered by writing “It is impossible, to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
Throughout the majority opinion, you’ll read about determining “ordinary public meaning,” and “assessing all statutory terms” – ultimately drawing conclusions and “applying the findings to written law.” Gorsuch’s majority narrative carefully details consequences and implications of interpreting the intent of the law in the context of today’s lived, social reality – demonstrating eloquent critical thinking.
You may recall in a previous post, I referenced Ibram X. Kendi who in his book, How to be an Antiracist wrote “Racist ideas love believers, not thinkers.” Both the critical dialogues around the recent protests addressing racial injustices and the monumental Supreme Court ruling supporting LGBTQ rights remind us that the power of learning can change the world for the better. As we celebrate Pride Month, we should also celebrate the role that critical and creative thinking plays in combating the” isms” of the world.
Every day I am reminded that one of the most important outcomes of a student’s experience at PVCC is to find purpose. It is my hope that one of those life purposes will manifest in becoming a leader in the positive social change movement that is so needed across this country.