HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia is the first state in the South to ban gay and trans panic as a defense for murder or manslaughter. The bill was introduced by openly transgender Delegate Danica Roem.
Virginia is the 12th state to pass this law.
New Directions is a call center that works closely with the LGBTQ center in Staunton and helps domestic and sexual violence survivors.
One statistic the organization has been sharing for sexual assault awareness month is that nearly half of all transgender people have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions and a lot of judgment that a lot of people are still working through with the LGBTQ community,” said Jessica Garcia, the New Directions advocacy services coordinator. “There still needs to be a lot of education and a buildup of resources in the area so that LGBTQ people feel supported and safe.”
Garcia says she hopes other states will follow suit with similar laws. She adds she felt relieved knowing that people in her community be safer.
“We hope that these new policies send a message that LGBTQ people are just as deserving of safety, justice and healing as much as anyone else in the community,” she said. “We hope that these changes will bring a better sense of safety for them.”
Garcia says they have had more LGBTQ clients reach out since the pandemic because they are stuck at home in an unsafe or unsupportive situation.
Those seeking help can call the center’s 24/7 hotline at (540) 886-6800.