BERGENFIELD, N.J. -- Every November, the National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section conducts a community-wide advocacy forum. The year's program will be "LGBT Equality: Our Work Has Just Begun," Wednesday, Nov. 9, in Teaneck.
"Our distinguished presenters will discuss the gains made to protect LGBT individuals and what the community can do to help end discrimination and harassment and promote equal rights for LGBT individuals," organizers note. "More than 40 coalition partners have joined NCJW BCS on this key issue."
The event is free and open to the public.
Organizers point to sobering statistics:
- Gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents are three times more likely than straight students to be sexually assaulted;
- More than 40 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual adolescents have seriously considered suicide;
- 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual adults and more than 41 percent of transgender individuals report attempting suicide, compared to 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population; and
- Transgender individuals are four times more likely than others to live on less than $10,000 a year.
Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, will give the keynote address. Goldstein founded Garden State Equality in 2004. The organization amassed 150,000 members and won a record-breaking 216 new civil rights laws at every level in the state. He then taught law and political science at Rutgers University in Newark.
The panel includes Assemblyman Tim Eustace, Jane Clementi and Hetty Rosenstein.
Eustace was mayor of Maywood for four years, and he currently represents New Jersey's 38th District. He was the first openly gay non-incumbent to be elected to the Legislature. He led the movement to allow same-sex couples to adopt in New Jersey, and he and his husband adopted two sons.
Eustace is co-chair of the LGBT Caucus and vice-chair of the Health and Senior Services Committee. He has sponsored numerous laws in support of LGBT rights.
Clementi is a founder and board member of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Her son, Tyler, was a victim of cyber-harassment who took his own life when he was 18. She works to end bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities and speaks in support of LGBT rights and the need for families and communities to embrace their LGBT populations.
Rosenstein is the state director of the Communications Workers of America, the largest union representing state workers. She represents more than 70,000 working families, including more than 40,000 state workers, 15,000 county and local workers, and thousands of workers in the telecommunications and direct-care industries.
She's a strong and vocal advocate for employee rights, and for LGBT rights and equality.
State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg will moderate the panel. She is vice-chair of the Legislative Oversight Committee and the Joint Committee on Economic Justice and Equal Employment. She also sits on numerous statewide commissions and has been at the forefront of LGBT anti-discrimination throughout her career.
"NCJW believes that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression must be eliminated," said Bari-Lynne Schwartz and Elaine Meyerson, co-chairs of NCJW's LGBT Equality Forum.
"LGBT individuals face widespread discrimination and harassment in schools, housing, health care, employment and other areas, and the effect on their lives is devastating. We know that our distinguished panel will bring new insight into this disturbing topic."
Since its founding in 1893, NCJW's mission has revolved around quality of life concerns for women, children and families. Today, NCJW advocates tirelessly to protect the civil rights of people of all backgrounds.
The forum will take place at Temple Emeth, 1666 Windsor Road. Refreshments and a business meeting will begin at 12:30 p.m., with the program following at 1:15 p.m.