We've done a lot of safe schools/anti-bullying work over the years, but we upped our game in 2014. As well as spending a lot of time working with citizens in Rutherford County to help them engage their school board, we also launched SAFE (Schools Are For Everyone) Tennessee in East Tennessee.
Ryan Hood, the program coordinator, is developing outreach to help communities deal with cases of bullying, assist GSAs, and engage their school boards. Consider pledging today to support the TEP Foundation on Giving Tuesday (December 2) at his link, where you can schedule your contribution in advance.
The TEP Foundation increased our media outreach this year. As well as providing media training for our community and allies in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and the Tri-Cities, we placed op-eds in media outlets in East, West, and Middle Tennessee. We called out religious bigotry when it was necessary. And we responded to over 100 local, state, and national media requests. We amplify your voice for equality in Tennessee. (Pictured below are members of the TEP Hamilton & Bradley Counties Committee holding their first press conference following their media training.)
When you make your pledge of support for Giving Tuesday at this link, you help us reach more eyes and ears.
One of the most fun and meaningful experiences the TEP Foundation had in 2014 was providing LGBT diversity training for about 80 leaders of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office. The trainers were a mixture of transgender, gay, and straight TEP leaders. In some cases, it was the first time members of the staff received exposure to transgender issues and concerns.
LGBT diversity training makes it easier for organizations and local governments to serve our community and promote our safety, dignity, and inclusion. When you pledge to support the TEP Foundation on Giving Tuesday, you help us offer programs like this. You can make your pledge here.
One of the big advances in Tennessee in 2014 is the number of elected officials who came out openly in favor of marriage equality. We worked with our national partners at Freedom to Marry to set up direct meetings with officials or members of their staff to ask them to sign Freedom to Marry's pledge. The following elected officials endorsed marriage equality in 2014:
U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper, Rep. Sherry Jones, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep. Gary Odom, Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, Metro Councilman Pete Westerholm, Metro Councilman Scott Davis, Metro Councilwoman Megan Barry, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.
Their public positions help change the conversation in Tennessee. Help us continue to promote the values of equality and inclusion in Tennessee by pledging to support the TEP Foundation on Giving Tuesday. Learn more at this link.
2014 has been an amazing year of ups and downs for equality. Remember when the local and then national story broke of a same-sex couple turned away from a Tennessee wedding venue?
TEP was pleased to start a dialogue with the owners and they changed their policy to be more inclusive. You can read about it here.
Help us make more victories for Tennessee here by supporting us on Giving Tuesday.
Candidates have been busy this year, particularly lately, making announcements about next year's Metro Nashville elections. We've been fortunate in that the 2007 and 2011 Metro elections resulted in pro-equality majorities in Metro Government. We were aided by having a clear policy agenda that we worked through steadily, an agenda that was completed this year with partner benefits for Metro government employees. So what's next?Read more
The Human Rights Campaign has released their 2014 Municipal Equality Index. Five Tennessee cities were rated. Let's take a look at how they performed this year.Read more
Last night over 325 equality advocates rallied in Chattanooga, Cookeville, Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville to offer their dissent to the marriage rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. We have a full roundup of the media coverage of the rallies. Pictured below is a protester sending a clear message at the Putnam County Courthouse in Cookeville.
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