Soulforce to Begin Equality Ride
It’s fitting they announced the fifth-ever Equality Ride on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – a day of service yesterday. Inspired by United We Serve, President Obama’s national call to service, Soulfource – a non-profit organization committed to the freedom of LGBT people from political and spiritual oppression – says they will set off for two months to bring attention to discriminatory practices at colleges and universities around the country.
At 200 institutions of higher education today in America, you can be kicked out just for being gay.
Starting March 4, the riders will begin visiting hundreds of American cities through April 29. In the past, the group’s reached thousands of students at these schools, shedding light on having to stay in the closet and training some of the youngest activists to join the cause – something that was chronicled in a documentary called Equality U.
“Our mission is simple,” says Soulforce. “We aim to visit hundreds of schools in the United States that openly discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and their allies through their policies and practices. On these campuses LGBTQA students are forced to suffer in silence. If they come out they are subject to expulsion and can even be forced into harmful ‘ex-gay’ or ‘reparative’ therapy programs.”
Equality Riders will also be performing community service projects in each city along the bus route from Philadelphia to San Francisco to increase its efforts to build community awareness and provide support systems for young people.
A team of 15 riders and two co-directors will help develop the new focus on community outreach efforts. Service projects will be planned individually by the Equality Riders managing each city stop – and will cover a wide spectrum of community needs, from issues of homelessness to public beautification projects.
“It is important for us to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – from whose teachings Soulforce has taken so much – by joining the President’s call to give service on this day and throughout the year,” explains Jason Conner, co-director of the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride.
“In every city we visit, we will be spending five days collaborating with groups that may not typically get a chance to work with each other,” says J. Mason, co-director of the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride. “A huge component of these visits will be incorporating service projects. We are excited to do this work with so many wonderful supporters and people that value cross-community dialogues.”
Check out the trailer for the documentary Equality U (the full-length film’s available online from the Soulforce store):