LaDonna and her family are just like any other Ohio family; constantly shuffling their two boys to and from school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. They live in Columbus and enjoy spending time at community parks, hiking trails, and fun festivals. In many senses, they are the poster family for the American dream.
“Growing up in America, we were told that if we worked hard, followed the rules, and stayed out of trouble that we could be anyone and accomplish anything that we wanted,” said LaDonna in her testimony to the Ohio House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. ”We were taught that every person has the same opportunities and that the only thing that could hold us back from achieving our grandest dreams was ourselves.”
But LaDonna is worried that dream may not be available in Ohio for her older son, who is transgender. She knows that despite the fact that her son is “one of the most amazingly smart, creative, loving, caring and talented twelve year old children that [she] knows,” he will face many challenges in his life, simply due to his gender identity.
What is worse, is that currently, that discrimination is perfectly legal here in Ohio. LaDonna’s son can legally be denied housing, employment, and access to public accommodation simply because he identifies as transgender.
The family feels lucky that they live in an inclusive and supportive community, but LaDonna has had to explain to her son that “the American dream could be harder for him. If people choose to reject who he is and if they don’t like him being himself that they are allowed to discriminate against him and treat him differently.”
LaDonna is now an LGBTQ activist who has spoken out several times on protecting youth from discrimination
There are families like LaDonna’s and kids like her son throughout Ohio. They live in fear that they may leave their house or their job one day and come back the next with an eviction notice or a pink slip because of their LGBTQ identity, but in most parts of the state, there’s simply no recourse because it’s generally legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people in Ohio.
Learn about the Ohio Fairness Act here, which would add LGBTQ people to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio and ensure that the American dream is accessible to LGBTQ Ohioans of all ages.