In the US House of Representatives, there are 435 members. Only nine of them are openly gay. One of them, Rep. Mark Pocan, introduced two bills last week to establish a National Museum of American LGBTQ+ History and Culture in Washington D.C.
The first bill introduces an eight-member commission that would study the museum's creation, develop a fundraising plan and determine how to acquire the museum's items. With 18 months to complete the study, the commission will then address whether the museum belongs within the Smithsonian Institution. If it is signed into law, the second bill will allow for the formal creation of the museum. Once this happens, we will get a shiny, new and very gay Smithsonian Museum!
All 9 openly gay members of Congress in addition to 50 other members have sponsored the bills.
It is important to recognize this history, especially as many states have taken steps to repeal LGBTQ+ protections, especially within schools. While Rep. Pocan was proposing the creation of the museum, hundreds of Arizona high school students walked out in protest of several anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed by the state government. Among the laws include barring trans students from joining girls sports teams, prohibiting trans minors from accessing gender-affirming surgery, forcing schools to hand over student records to parents and banning books that contain sexually explicit material, which has already led to the removal of several LGBTQ+ books.
“As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations,” Rep. Pocan said. “It is vital to remember our collective past – particularly when certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that harm LGBTQ+ youth and our community at large. Let’s tell these stories, and honor the many contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to this nation with a museum in Washington, D.C. I look forward to the passage of this legislation and to visiting this museum in the near future.”
Photo courtesy of f11photo/Shutterstock
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