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May Member Spotlight: OutNebraska

OutNebraska works to empower, connect, and celebrate LGBTQIA+ people in Nebraska. Through community events, educational programs, and grassroots advocacy, OutNebraska fights for a Nebraska that embraces the full spectrum of LGBTQIA+ individuals. 

As a Nebraska Table Member, OutNebraska sees civic engagement as a core aspect of their mission. By “advocating for reform, connecting with local and state representatives, encouraging civic engagement and making investments for the betterment of our communities,” OutNebraska is building community power across the state. 

Legislative Advocacy:

OutNebraska works to activate community members to advocate for themselves at all levels of government, from school board to city council and even the federal government. However, due to the recent attacks on LGBTQIA+ youth in the legislature, much of their recent efforts have focused at the State Capitol. 

At the beginning of the 2024 legislative session, everyone seemed to want a change of pace from 2023 - to work together to get things done. OutNebraska was on the same page. However, near the very end of the session, LB 575, or the Sports and Spaces Act, came to the floor. This bill sought to completely ban transgender and gender nonconforming students from participating in sports and using many school facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms. 

With the support of the coalition members, OutNebraska mobilized community members to oppose LB 575 in full force. As a small but scrappy team, OutNebraska relied on support from other coalition partners to assist with this mass mobilization of supporters and advocates. 

“Everybody really pitched in to pick up the slack and activate their supporter bases,” said Johnny Redd, OutNebraska’s Communications Manager. 

Ultimately, OutNebraska was successful in blocking this bill, a success which they insist must be credited to the individuals and families who spent countless hours building relationships and sharing their stories with representatives through phone calls, one-on-one meetings, and testimony. 

In particular, the heartfelt honesty of families with transgender kids seemed to move the heart of at least one senator, who ultimately voted against LB 575, citing the families he had spoken to and leading to the bill’s defeat. 

Electoral Organizing:

Beyond legislative advocacy, OutNebraska works to connect with people LGBTQIA+ on the ground across the state, providing the community, resources, and opportunities to encourage people to turn out for elections and make their voices heard in the civic process. During the recent primary election, OutNebraska launched get-out-the vote-efforts and shared community-specific resources, like their new LGBTQ+ Voter Resources guide. 

In addition to information about election deadlines, polling locations, and voter registration, this guide also includes information about the new voter ID law, in effect for the first time during the primary election. Voter ID requirements create unique barriers for LGBTQIA+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary individuals, to civic engagement. For a variety of reasons, some LGBTQIA+ people's names do not match the ones printed on their IDs. Therefore, OutNebraska’s resource guide provides information about updating voter registration, changing your legal name, and knowing your rights at the voting booth.

Throughout the summer, you can find OutNebraska all Pride celebrations across the state. With the theme “Queer the Vote,” OutNebraska will seek to engage and educate the community about voting and civic participation. They will also provide resources for people to register to vote right then and there, removing barriers to voting and encouraging participation in upcoming elections. 

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