MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — With President Joe Biden officially in office, South Texas Equality Project (STEP) says they are stepping forward.
STEP partners with organizations throughout the Rio Grande Valley to promote the inclusion of the LGBTQ community — a goal Steven Cano, STEP community mobilization director, says was harder to achieve under Trump’s presidency.
“To note that the grassroots effort we are advocating for — social injustice all the way to reproductive health — we are going to have a President who’s going to hear every American and value everyone, and this is including the LGBTQ community,” said Cano.
One item Biden says he’s committed to passing in his first 100 days on the job is the Equality Act. This act would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and other areas.
“The Valley is inclusive to an extent but we still face stigma,” said Cano. “Members of the LGBTQ community may still feel where they can’t go into a doctor’s office, barber or restaurant. Having, essentially, an anti-discriminatory legislation on the table is really going to help.”
While Cano says they are hopeful it will be enacted, if not achieved within the 100 days he says what matters is that there is an effort to get it going.
“We know it’s only 100 days, but if there is already a push and start, that is already way above what we’ve had in the past four years via the Trump administration,”said Cano.
He adds the non-inclusive rhetoric from the former president and policies like the transgender military ban, which Biden has pledged to reverse, also set the community back.
“I think we woke up today with being able to breathe, especially as LGBTQ members knowing there will now be an administration open and inclusive to all members of our community,” he said.
Under the pandemic, STEP has had to move its outreach efforts virtually. While they’ve been able to adapt, Cano says they are excited to get back into the community and continue to grow.
“I feel this administration will now start placing individuals that are going to be competent to really track down this virus so we can get back to a sense of normalcy, and the outreach STEP can do can be that much better,” he said.
Click here to read other promises from President Biden to the LGBTQ community.