The Lansing Association for Human Rights (LAHR) is one of the oldest LGBTQIA advocacy organizations in Michigan. Established in 1979, the organization has witnessed the progress and the set-backs in the work toward social, political and economic equality. LAHR has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of LGBTQIA-identified folks, and even though gains have been made, there is still a great deal of work to be done.
Our mission is to pursue justice and equality for LGBTQIA peoples through community-led advocacy, connection and education. But let’s break that down a little bit.
What does LGBTQIA stand for?
We define LGBTQIA as standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and a-spectrum.
Why does LAHR use “LGBTQIA” instead of other acronyms or the newer umbrella term “queer”?
Language is always evolving. That includes the words we use to identify ourselves within this community of unique individuals. We decided to use an expanded version of the popular “LGBT” acronym as a means of demonstrating a commitment to working towards justice and equality for the identity groups that often get left out of equality discussions and activism. LAHR is dedicated to supporting, advocating for, and including all peoples who experience marginalization based on their sexuality and gender identity/expression. We chose not to use the umbrella “queer” because we recognize that this phrase still causes discomfort for some folks in our community.
What does LAHR actually do?
Just like language, the role of LAHR in the community is ever-evolving. In our current work, we’re largely educators. Whether it’s hosting training sessions about LGBTQIA identities, working closely with other community organizations to help their staff and members understand the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA peoples, or posting super relevant articles to our Facebook page and social media venues, we strive to bring the most up-to-date information to people as possible. LAHR also has a major focus on advocacy work. We advocate for appropriate, well-informed portrayals of LGBTQIA folks in the local media, talk with state legislators and local leaders about concerns brought to us by LGBTQIA identified folks, and let our constituents know about policies that are positive/negative for our communities. LAHR also works to connect our community: to each other and to the resources and services that are intended to serve us.