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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 9 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 19
USDA and NCLR launch Rural Pride campaign
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USDA and NCLR launch Rural Pride campaign

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is teaming up with the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) on a new project to address the needs of LGBT people living in rural areas of the United States.

Called the Rural Pride campaign, the project was officially launched May 7.

'What we want to do is dismantle some of these myths that the LGBT community doesn't live in rural areas, that they are wealthy, and then also talk about the policies that would impact these peoples' lives,' NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert said.

'As we experience an unprecedented number of LGBT equality victories across the country, many people living in rural communities have not seen the full impact of these victories simply because of where they live. We wanted to give people the opportunity to talk to the USDA officials and advocates and say, 'These are the things we need.'

The campaign will also raise awareness of the particular issues faced by LGBT rural communities including increased rates of economic insecurity, lack of family protections, lack of nondiscrimination protections, and the heightened challenges facing rural LGBT youth and rural LGBT people of color.

The centerpiece of the campaign is a series of day-long summits hosted by USDA, NCLR, and local partners based in rural communities across the country.

These summits will focus on the specific needs of the rural LGBT community, highlight the efforts the Obama administration has undertaken to protect this community, and identify next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.

The kick-off summit will take place on June 6 in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will be co-hosted by USDA, NCLR, and the LGBTQ Law Center at North Carolina A&T State University. The keynote address and luncheon will be sponsored by the True Colors Fund.

'The Rural Pride campaign will allow us to focus on the particular needs of the LGBT people who make their homes and their lives in the communities that USDA is proud to serve,' USDA Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights Dr. Joe Leonard said in a statement.

'We could not be more proud to partner with NCLR on this campaign. It is an opportunity to showcase the diversity of rural America and highlight one of USDA's fundamental values: We represent and are here to serve all people.'

'We are incredibly excited about this chance to highlight the needs of LGBT people in rural America,' Rupert added. 'Too often, these issues have been ignored and, as a result, rural LGBT people too often are marginalized both in the LGBT community and in the rural communities where they live. We are grateful for USDA's leadership in targeting and addressing the needs of this community.'

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