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New legal guide helps tribal legislators strengthen LGBT equality

November 14, 2012

A new legal toolkit helps tribal legislative leaders change their sovereign nations’ laws to support tribal members who are Two Spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).

“Two Spirit, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are part of our community, and some tribes have been recognizing them for centuries,” said Se­ah­dom Edmo, coordinator of the Indigenous Ways of Knowing (IWOK) program at Lewis & Clark, and one of the lead authors of the toolkit.

The term Two Spirit was developed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Native Americans as a way to reclaim their past. Before the process of colonization, Two Spirit people were often respected for the unique perspectives they provided to their tribes.

As outlined in the toolkit, native Two Spirit/LGBT individuals now face some of the highest disparities in the U.S. The toolkit identifies areas where existing tribal laws may unintentionally discriminate, and offers sample legal language that tribes can adopt.

The toolkit was a collaboration between IWOK, the Native American Program of Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Western States Center, and Basic Rights Oregon. The Pride Foundation provided financial support for the project.

Tribal Equity Toolkit

Read more about the guide in Willamette Week, Indian Country Today, and Think Progress.


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