The Rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBT rights. Courtesy of Wikimedia

The following is a republished press release from Ithaca College … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

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ITHACA, NY — The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to extend marriage equality nationwide means same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry in all 50 states, but work remains to ensure equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer citizens. That’s according to nationally recognized LGBTQ educator Luca Maurer.

With Friday’s decision, the families of same-sex couples will be guaranteed access to rights that only marriage provides, Maurer said, and noted at the federal level alone there are 1,138 such privileges.

“They’ll also, of course, still get to express the same love, commitment, and joy when they celebrate their weddings surrounded by their friends, families, and loved ones. And now, their marriages will also be recognized as legally valid by their nation,” he added.

Maurer is the founding director of the Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Education, Outreach, and Services at Ithaca College. Under his leadership, the college has been ranked as one of the 25 best campuses in the nation for LGBT students and one of top 10 transgender-friendly colleges and universities.

Despite Friday’s Supreme Court decision, Maurer said there is work yet to be done to establish rights and freedoms for LGBTQ people that other Americans may take for granted. On Thursday, for example, the New York Senate ended its session without passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and a bill that would prohibit “conversion therapy” on children. Both bills passed the NYS Assembly with bi-partisan support earlier this year.

“Many challenges still remain: extraordinary violence faced by transgender women of color; LGBTQ youth homelessness and suicide; health disparities; and continuing harassment and bullying that face LGBTQ youth in school, that may cause students to foreclose on their dreams and their futures,” he said.

Earlier this month, Maurer was one of about two dozen experts from around the country invited by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and Planned Parenthood Federation of America to attend a pair of meetings in Washington, D.C. Attendees presented new findings on the social, emotional and sexual health needs of LGBTQ youth and discussed the creation of digital resources for youth, parents and service providers to address these needs. Maurer also provided his expertise in creating sex education curricula that are inclusive of or specifically designed for LGBTQ youth.

Maurer notes that Friday’s Supreme Court ruling is not a conclusion, and vowed to press on. “It is the beginning of the conversation and the work toward fighting for the rights and the lives of the most marginalized in our LGBTQ communities,” he said.

The co-editor of the book “Doing Gender Diversity: Readings in Theory and Real-World Experience,” Maurer has written for a variety of publications, served as a consultant/trainer and given numerous presentations on such topics as sexual orientation, gender identity, disability issues and HIV/AIDS for a variety of publications. He has served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Sexuality Education and of Prevention Researcher, a multidisciplinary journal focusing on successful adolescent development and at-risk youth.