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Perspective
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Kyrsten Koebach

Stepping Up My Fight for LGBTQ+ Rights

Gay Pride is not just a month of rainbows and parades, it is also activism and awareness.

As we celebrate annual Pride celebrations around the globe, in a post-pandemic world, I am inclined to reflect on where we are and how far (or not) we have come in LGBTQ+ rights. 2020 was an exceptionally painful year for so many of us, and a personal point of inflection for me.

Kyrsten Koebach and Dr. Alison Easter
Kyrsten Koebach, right, and her wife, Dr.
Alison Easter at their 2019 wedding.

I used to feel that just being open about who I am, not making big statements, and just living my authentic life was enough.

But I’m finding lately that this is not enough. I am reminded that 70 countries around the world criminalize same-sex relationships, including some where private, consensual same-sexual activity is punishable by death.

I am also reminded that when I started my journey at Charles River Laboratories, gay marriage wasn’t even legal in most US states. That until a 2020 US Supreme Court ruling, which ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protected gaylesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex, it was still legal to be fired for being gay. We take a lot of this for granted working for a company like Charles River, that has always been open and affirming, but this is not the case for everyone, everywhere, and I think about this more and more these days.

I think of Stonewall and how a riot against police brutality was our pride genesis, a fight that continues to this day for so many in our community. Consider this:

  • The first four months of 2021 have been among the worst on record for transgender individuals. States like Texas are threatening parents of transgender children with jail for supporting their children’s medical needs.
  • Arkansas has passed what the ACLU has called the “single most extreme anti-trans law to ever pass through a state legislature.”
  • In total, more than 127 different anti-transgender bills are currently up for debate in statehouses across the country.
  • And now comes news from the Human Rights Campaign that trans murders are up 100% over this time last year — which was already the deadliest year on record.

So, as we celebrate Pride 2021 with festivals and parades, and corporations change their logos to rainbows, remember that Pride is activism, it is awareness, it is about learning about others and their struggles you may not understand.

My door is open to anyone who wishes to generate discussions or create better understanding about those of us in the LGBTQ+ community and being an ally. #Pride2021 #LifeatCRL .

Kyrsten Koebach is Senior Director of Global Accounts at Charles River Laboratories.