Key Theme: Civil Rights
Help spread the dream that all people are created equal
Civil rights guarantee everyone equal social opportunities and equal protection under the law--regardless of race, religion, or other personal characteristics. The struggle for civil rights in the U.S. is rooted in the movement to end discrimination against Black Americans after the abolition of slavery. Even when former slaves were officially granted political rights, Black Americans continued to be systematically disenfranchised and excluded from public life in most Southern states. Forced to live as second-class citizens gave rise to a social movement of epic proportions in the 1950s.
Today, the struggle for civil rights continues for many marginalized groups. Black, immigrant, Native, and LGBTQ Americans continue to fight for equal rights. Below, you’ll learn about a few contemporary issues in the civil rights arena.
1. TRANSGENDER ATHLETES IN WOMEN'S SPORTS
The question of whether to allow transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports has become a hot-button issue in 2021. In March 2021, lawmakers in three states - Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee - passed laws banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. Advocates for bans argue that biological men have higher testosterone levels, giving men and boys the advantage of “categorically different strength, speed, and endurance” over elite women, according to the Duke Law Center for Sports Law and Policy. Critics counter that these bans raise privacy concerns, discriminate against trans youth, and compromise trans youths’ health, social & emotional development, and safety.
2. GENDER & SEXUAL ORIENTATION 'PROTECTED CLASSES'
The Equality Act would turn sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) into protected classes under federal law. This would make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service. This bill’s advocates say it ensures that the law protects people who could be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or identity. Opponents argue that the federal government shouldn’t compel business owners to act in ways that contradict their personal religious beliefs.
3. ELIMINATING THE DEADLINE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS
If you watched buzzy Hulu ministries “Mrs. America," you know that ratification of the Equal Rights Act (ERA) has been a work in progress for almost a hundred years. H.J.Res. 17 would eliminate the deadline for ratifying the ERA, allowing this amendment to take effect whenever 38 states (three-fourths of the nifty fifty) approve it.
4. RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN LAWMAKERS
With 123 female representatives and non-voting delegates in the House and 24 female senators, the 117th Congress has a record-setting number of women lawmakers. As of 2021, only Vermont has never sent a woman to Congress.
5. BANNING GAY CONVERSION THERAPY
Gay conversion therapy is a medically discredited practice that continues to affect over half a million LGBTQ adults in the United States. While 20 states ban conversion therapy for minors, 26 states - and the federal government - lack laws on this issue. Is it a First Amendment issue or human rights issue?
Key Theme: Voting RightsBy Countable You vote every four - or, hopefully, two - years. But your reps debating in D.C. and introducing laws in your state
Key Theme: Justice ReformBy Countable The United States holds the dubious distinction of having the highest prison population and highest incarceration
Key Theme: Civic LiteracyBy Countable Flummoxed by the filibuster's function? Consternated by unanimous consent? Earmarks got you scratching your head?