Rosendall speaks at memorial for murdered teens
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Rosendall speaks at memorial for murdered teens

Day of Remembrance for Murdered Children
J.C. Nalle Elementary School
50th and C Streets, SE
August 12, 2003

Remarks by Rick Rosendall
GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs

Good evening.

A year ago, when Stephanie Thomas and Ukea Davis were murdered just up the street from here, I can't be sure if it was because they were transgendered. I haven't heard enough from the police investigation to be able to make that conclusion. But I have heard enough from transgendered survivors to know that they are one of the highest-risk populations in our city. Like the throw-away youth that many of them have been, they are at high risk not only for violence but for homelessness, joblessness, drug abuse, and prostitution.

I am here today not only in tribute to Stephanie and Ukea, and all the other young people we have lost, but also in tribute to mothers like Queen Washington and Michelle Davis who have stood by their children, even when their children were different, even when they were hard to understand. We need to hold our public officials accountable -- from the Mayor and Police Chief to the Council and the School Board -- but without our mothers and fathers and concerned neighbors, our children -- and with them our future -- will be lost.

I am here today on behalf of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance to say that neighborhood is not merely a place but a frame of mind -- and all of us must act as neighbors if we are to heal and rebuild our city.

Neighbors look out for each other -- but first we have to talk to each other. There are difficult topics that we are uncomfortable talking about. They include teenage sexuality and homosexuality and gender non-conformity and racial and religious intolerance and HIV and AIDS. These issues do not disappear just because we don't want to discuss them. If we can't deal with our disagreements on these things, how can we expect our kids to do any better? We really are in this together, and our silence is killing our city's youth.

Our kids will listen when we talk to them, but they will also see the examples we set. So let's not paper over our very real differences with a false veneer of unity. Let's also avoid all our usual tactics for shutting down discussions before they even start. We have to learn to talk across all of our differences, and learn from one another, and find ways of working together, or the upcoming generation will bear the consequences.

I look around at all these wonderful young people, and I want them to still be around next year, and for a long time after that. Let us be good neighbors to one another.

Thank you.

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