As summer begins in full and days grow longer, Uplight’s PRISM Employee Resource Group (ERG) members find themselves right in the middle of Pride month, the queer community’s annual celebration of our identities. PRISM stands for Pride, Raising Awareness, Involvement, Support, & Mentorship. This June, the PRISM ERG is rolling out meaningful changes, as well as having lots of fun and raising awareness about parts of our community.
June was formally recognized as pride month in 1999 by President Clinton. Pride celebrations and marches began in 1970 in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco in remembrance of, among other things, the Stonewall riots, which happened the year before. A group of transgender individuals, butch lesbians, and drag performers who were regularly being arrested for violating NYCs “three-article rule” anti-cross-gender presentation laws resisted arrest during a police raid of the Stonewall Inn. As the crowd grew in size, violence broke out between protesters and the police, which lasted 4 days in total.
It’s been a year where pride festivities feel both harder to engage in and also more important than they have been in the recent past. The ACLU is currently tracking over 490 anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced into state legislatures across the country. These laws, primarily focused on the transgender community, among other things, look to define sex and gender as the same thing, criminalize medical transition of any form for young people, mandate bathroom use to the gender you were assigned at birth, outlaw teachings about queer lives and identities in schools, and ban drag performances. These laws negatively impact not only millions of Americans in the states they are being passed in, but also people traveling and vacationing in those states.
In response, Uplight’s CEO, Luis D’Acosta (he/him), and members of the PRISM group are developing a company policy to provide resources to relocate team members who are in states that are legislating against them. This follows the example set forth by our family planning policy in the wake of the Roe vs. Wade repeal in June of last year. We have created 2 policies, one for trans individuals and one for other LGBQIA+ team members. The policies will pay for moving expenses and some other related fees incurred in the process of relocating from a state negatively impacted by anti-queer/trans legislation for Uplight team members, their partners, and the dependents living with them. Privacy and confidentiality are important, so team members who need this relocation benefit will be able to work directly with the People Team. They can also lean on fellow ERG members or their manager for support. A list of sanctuary states who are accepting of trans and queer refugees is available from the PRISM ERG.
We specifically created a separate policy for trans folks because the PRISM ERG felt so strongly against the vitriol and legislation against an already marginalized group who has sadly become a focus of negative attention in the past few years. While there is a large amount of misinformation around these laws, it’s important to remember that a vast majority of medical associations, including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American College of Physicians, American Psychiatric Association, and dozens more all agree that affirming transition, medical support, and medical intervention is the best way to treat both youth and adult transgender individuals.
On a lighter note, The PRISM ERG also helped curate multiple inclusive and fun events in the month of June. On June 7th, we held an in-person Pride Happy Hour at the Uplight offices in Boulder. On June 16th, in conjunction with the OMG (Organized Marginalized Genders) and WIT (Women In Tech) ERGs, we brought in speaker Felix Lefevre (they/them) for the virtual lunch-and-learn Beyond Trans 101: Raising Gender-Affirming Workplaces to the Next Level. On July 22nd we were joined by fabulous drag queens for the very fun Roulette & A Drag Show. Finally, the month culminated on June 25th with the Denver Pride celebration in which team members represented Uplight in the parade.
Uplight employees who are members or allies of the LGBTQIAA2+ community can join PRISM on Slack, and members can join closed bi-weekly coffee chats where we provide support to each other as well as help shape policy and events pertinent to our community within Uplight. From all of us in the ERG, we hope you have a safe and fun summer and a happy Pride month!