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WASHINGTON--Last week, we lost another member of the Black Trans Community. Layleen Polanco, a 27-year old Black trans woman, was found dead in her cell at Rikers Island, where she had been serving time for an alleged assault and possession of a controlled substance. Polanco was held in an unit specifically intended to reduce possible violence against trans and gender non-conforming people. She was found unresponsive in her cell and pronounced dead after an hour of revival attempts. The nature of Polanco’s death is still being investigated.

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According to the Human Rights Campaign nearly 80% of LGBTQ/SGL teens report feeling depressed. Data suggests that LGBTQ/SGL youth experience violence and bullying nearly twice as much as children who are or are presumed to be heterosexual. 74% of LGBTQ/SGL students report feeling unsafe, bullied, and harassed in schools throughout the country according to GLSEN. LGBTQ/SGL students are five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.

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Huntsville, Alabama-- On April 18, 2019, 14-year-old Nigel Shelby died by suicide after constant homophobic bullying for being gay. This Monday, June 10, Nigel Shelby’s mother Camika Shelby will announce that she is retaining nationally renowned civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump, Esquire and Jasmine Rand, Esquire, to investigate the circumstances involving her son’s death, the bullying he experienced at Huntsville High School, and his school administrators’ role in his decision to take his life. Crump and Rand are best known for their work as nationally renowned civil rights attorneys who represented the family of Trayvon Martin. 

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Chynal Lindsey is now the eighth Black transgender woman killed this year and reported by the news. This tragic event is especially difficult since last month’s murder of our sister Muhlaysia Booker. While many are celebrating Pride Month, Black women and girls are being murdered  across the country and too few people are acknowledging this reality and trying to stop these deaths.

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WASHINGTON -- This past weekend, Muhlaysia Booker, a young Black Transgender woman, was found murdered in Dallas, Texas. In April of this year, she was filmed being horribly beaten in public. Another Black Trans woman, Tamika Michelle Simone, was pronounced dead this weekend after suffering gunshot wounds in north Philadelphia.

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WASHINGTON -- Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. In response to the news and Trump’s reported opposition to the Equality Act, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement:
“Every day, members of the Black community face discrimination as a result of who we are and how we show up in the world. There is much more work to do to ensure that each of us are spared from discrimination and spared from attacks on our constitutional rights and the passage of the Equality Act is a critical step in the right direction.

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WASHINGTON, DC – Over the weekend it was reported that Nigel Shelby, a high schooler in Huntsville, Alabama, died by suicide. In response to the tragic news, National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director David Johns released the following statement:

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WASHINGTON, DC – Every student has a right to an educational experience where they feel safe, engaged, and supported. However, the fact remains, that for too many students, especially Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving students (LGBTQ/SGL) find college campuses and K-12 schools to be hostile and unsafe spaces, which makes it challenging to learn and develop the skills, experiences, and credentials needed to succeed in the global 21st century labor market. Black transgender and gender nonconforming people face unique and sometimes disproportionate challenges, including hate crimes that make it harder for them to succeed in school and in life.

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WASHINGTON -- Later yesterday, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing on the Equality Act, which would extend existing civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex. David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement in response to the hearing:

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WASHINGTON, DC-- This morning, news broke that the charges against Jussie Smollett for allegedly orchestrating a hate crime have been dropped. In response to the news David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), released the following statement:
 
“While many have taken it upon themselves to stand as judge and jury by rushing to dismiss brother Jussie Smollett’s allegations of a hate crime, it is important to remember that Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same-gender-loving people people experience acts of hatred and bias more than other groups of people. While there are still details about the case that we may never know, it is an important reminder that we should never rush to judgement, especially people in power.

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