Aidan DeStefano has a message for transgender young people headed back to school this fall: “I hope you never believe anyone who tells you that you don’t belong.”
For transgender young people, back-to-school season can be tough. And this year, following months of headlines specifically about transgender students and focusing disproportionately on their ability to use the restroom, it’s even more of a challenge. That’s why Americans nationwide are coming together to send encouragement to transgender students.
Aidan knows what it feels like to have your dignity threatened by opponents of LGBTQ equality. Last year the anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against his high school, Boyertown Area High School in Pennsylvania, for respecting students’ gender identity for the purpose of restrooms and locker rooms. The lawsuit claimed that the privacy of non-transgender children was being threatened by transgender children using the same facilities.
In August 2017 a federal judge ruled against Alliance Defending Freedom, siding with the school that is doing the right thing by respecting and supporting transgender kids. Aidan and his mother, Melissa DeStefano, celebrated the victory for fairness and dignity.
In a new video, Aidan and Melissa share their story and why it’s important for all Americans to come together to make #EveryoneWelcome. The video is part of the ongoing #EveryoneWelcome campaign, which elevates the voices of Americans nationwide who support full and explicit non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Watch the video:
“Being a kid is already hard enough without politicians and lawyers personally attacking you for who you are, and it was terrible to see headline after headline about elected officials doing everything they could to discriminate against transgender people like my son,” Melissa said in the video. “I’ve been so proud to see Aidan blossom into the strong, courageous man he is today. This year after he shared his story in court during the anti-transgender lawsuit here in Boyertown, the judge told him how much he was helping people better understand what it means to be transgender.”
“I want every transgender student to stay strong and remember that thousands of people have their back,” Aidan added. “I hope non-transgender people across the country are speaking out more than ever about treating everyone with respect and dignity, no matter who they are. ”
#EveryoneWelcome is a public education campaign dedicated to building support for transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections by sharing the stories of transgender Americans and the people who care about them.
To date, more than 100 people across the country have filmed videos as part of the campaign, including members of Congress, LGBT advocates, celebrities, and athletes. The campaign is a partnership between several organizations, including the Ally Coalition, Athlete Ally, Freedom for All Americans, GLAAD, the Transgender People of Color Coalition, the Trans Latin@ Coalition, and Trans United Fund.
Raising awareness about who transgender people are and the challenges they face through personal storytelling is an important tool in the fight against discrimination. If you’d like to share your story via our #EveryoneWelcome campaign, click here for more information.