New PSAs Demand LGBTQ+ Equality
at Taxpayer Funded Religious Educational Institutions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2022
Top from left:
Alan Cumming, André De Shields, Alexandra Billings, Dominique Jackson, Margaret Cho, Michael Urie, Jason Rodriguez
Bottom from left:
Jackie Cox, Kevin Daniels, Nicki Champa and Pierre Boo, Desmond is Amazing, Omar Sharif Jr
Alan Cumming, Dominique Jackson, Michael Urie, and Margaret Cho are among the celebrities shining a light on how taxpayer dollars are being used to fund LGBTQ+ discrimination at faith-based schools and colleges. In a new PSA, available at www.TheReap.org, they are voicing their support of REAP, the Religious Accountability Exemption Project, an organization that is standing up against powerful corporations and wealthy anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups and fighting to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of marginalized LGBTQ+ students who attend these schools and universities.
The PSAs were organized by Broadway producer Tom D’Angora (Caroline, or Change, NEWSical, Melange), who has enlisted his celebrity friends to help raise awareness and funds for REAP. Celebrities featured in the PSAs include Alexandra Billings (Transparent, The Connors), Margaret Cho (comedian), Pierre Boo and Nicky Champa (Tik Tok), Jackie Cox (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Kevin Daniels (Atypical), André De Shields (Hadestown), Desmond is Amazing (author and “drag kid”), Dominique Jackson (Pose), Jason Rodriguez (Pose), Omar Sharif Jr. (GLAAD) and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty).
"Like most Americans, I was unaware that my tax dollars were being used to discriminate against and punish LGBTQ+ students at some religious universities for living their truth,” D’Angora, a long-time activist who has raised over 1.5 million dollars with virtual fundraisers featuring a repertory cast of celebrities and notables ala Ryan Murphy, benefitting the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative and NYC’s historic Birdland Jazz Club, among others, said from his NYC home. “REAP opened my eyes and I am proud to join their fight.”
All funds will go towards advocating for these students, amplifying their voices, and protecting them as they stand bravely against hate and for LGBTQ+ acceptance in their own communities. Last year, REAP filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of 33 plaintiffs from 25 evangelical and LDS colleges in eighteen states. During the past year, the plaintiffs have grown to forty students in twenty states. The plaintiffs include a mix of current students (some of whom are using a pseudonym for their safety), recently expelled students, and alumni who suffered conversion therapy and/or disciplinary action.
Through loopholes in Title IX, the civil rights law prohibiting sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity discrimination at taxpayer-funded educational institutions, some religious educational institutions are allowed to target, punish, ban and expel LGBTQ+ students for expressing their identities and relationships by claiming a religious exemption. REAP’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, challenges the Constitutionality of using the religious exemption to Title IX to target LGBTQ+ youth and deny them legal protections.
“Currently, more than 200 religiously affiliated colleges in the United States that receive taxpayer dollars are permitted to broadly discriminate against LGBTQ+ students,” says Paul Southwick, Attorney and Director of the Religious Exemption Accountability Project. “Our laws should protect the health and welfare of all students, not perpetuate discrimination that harmfully targets people because of their sexual or gender identity.”
To learn more about REAP, and make your tax-deductible donation, visit www.TheReap.org.