Two Spirit Tribal Members Gain New Support and Visibility

New toolkit helps tribal governments be more inclusive; video shares stories of Two Spirit Native Americans

An unprecedented legal toolkit published in November helps tribal leaders change laws to support tribal members who are Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.

“Pride Foundation is honored and excited to support this project. The toolkit provides vital information to tribal leaders who are committed to recognizing and protecting the lives and families of its Two Spirit and LGBTQ members,” says Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of Pride Foundation.

As outlined in the toolkit, native Two Spirit/LGBTQ individuals now face some of the highest disparities in the United States. More than half of Two Spirit/LGBTQ students experience violence at school because of their sexual orientation. Fifty-six percent (56%) of transgender Native Americans have had attempted suicide. The toolkit identifies areas where existing tribal laws may unintentionally discriminate, and offers sample legal language that tribes can adopt.

“This toolkit provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how we, as Tribal Leaders, and Tribal Communities, are either passively or actively perpetuating policies, ordinances, or other bodies of Tribal Law that are damaging to the fabric of our Nations—or whether we are already committed to equity and justice for all members… It gives our communities another set of tools for restoring ourselves,” said Robert Kentta, Siletz Tribal Member, Cultural Resources Director, and Tribal Council Member.

Creating the toolkit was a collaboration of the the Indigenous Ways of Knowing Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Native American Program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Western States Center, and Basic Rights Oregon.

Coinciding with the release of the toolkit, Basic Rights Oregon is presented a special screening of an eight minute video that focuses on the trials and triumphs of Two Spirit Native Americans. The video is the latest in a series featuring LGBTQ families of color.

We encourage you to download the toolkit and watch the video.

Gunner Scott is Pride Foundation’s Director of Programs. Email Gunner. 

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