Sarah Demarest
Sarah Demarest

GREENSBORO, N.C. — On May 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) launched their Rural Pride campaign to elevate and address the needs of LGBT people living in rural communities across the U.S.

A kick-off summit will be held on June 6, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., at North Carolina A&T State University, 2907 E. Lee St., in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering Building. It will be hosted by NCLR, USDA and the Freedom Center for Social Justice’s LGBTQ Law Center. A luncheon will be held with a keynote address sponsored by the True Colors fund.

The summit will focus on the unique needs of the rural LGBT community, highlight the efforts the Obama administration has undertaken to protect this community, and identify the next steps to ensure all rural communities have access to the resources they need to thrive.

The campaign’s goal is to challenge the stereotype that LGBT people live only in metropolitan areas by elevating the voices and stories of LGBT people living in rural America. The campaign will also raise awareness of the particular issues faced by LGBT rural communities, including increased rates of economic insecurity, lack of family protections, lack of non-discrimination protections and the heightened challenges facing rural LGBT youth and rural LGBT people of color.

“The Rural Pride campaign will allow us to focus on the particular needs of the LGBT people who make their homes and their lives in the communities that USDA is proud to serve. We could not be more proud to partner with NCLR on this campaign. It is an opportunity to showcase the diversity of rural America and highlight one of USDA’s fundamental values: We represent and are here to serve all people,” USDA Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights Dr. Joe Leonard said.

LGBTQ Law Center staff attorney Sarah Demarest told qnotes her organization’s experience working with rural clients clearly paints a strong case for addressing needs.

“Through serving LGBTQ people in rural communities we’ve learned that they are in desperate need of resources and support,” Demarest said. “We’re excited to partner with NCLR and the USDA on this important initiative, and we hope that through this partnership we can help LGBTQ people in rural areas access the resources necessary to continue strengthening their communities.”

Registration for the summit is available online and end on June 6 at 7:30 a.m.


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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.