YWCA USA CEO: Even as Our Rights are Rolled Back, We Must Be Resilient

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YWCA USA CEO: Even as Our Rights are Rolled Back, We Must Be Resilient

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued rulings in multiple cases that—in the aftermath of their 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health—continue to roll back rights and protections for women, communities of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, victims of stalking, and other marginalized communities:

  • Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, which all but eliminates the consideration of race in higher education admissions
  • 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, invalidating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and ending protections from discrimination for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Department of Education v. Brown and Biden v. Nebraska, invalidating the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness program
  • Counterman v. Colorado, invalidating a Colorado stalking statute that protected individuals from online harassment and bullying

 The lone exception to this difficult week of decisions is in the area of voting rights: In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court rejected the “independent state legislature theory” and—at least for the moment—preserved the authority of state courts to continue their important role in safeguarding elections.

In response, YWCA USA CEO Margaret Mitchell issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court’s decisions this week continue what we foresaw a year ago with the overturning of Roe v. Wade: a rolling back of rights, access, and opportunity that will impact our youngest generations for years to come. Just as affirmative action has been a gateway to higher education and opportunity for people of color and women, newer laws like the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act have provided crucial steps toward equality for the LGBTQ+ community and Colorado’s anti-stalking law took positive steps to protect against the growing threat of obsessive online stalking. Similarly, the Biden administration’s efforts to address the heavy economic burden of student loans were another gateway to opportunity for all.

But with the Court’s decisions this week, the majority of Supreme Court justices have sent a clear message of exclusion. And make no mistake: this is part of the calculated, intentional, and unrelenting attacks on the rights, safety, and futures of marginalized communities that have escalated since the Dobbs decision.

As an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, I am particularly alarmed by the impact that these decisions will have on young women of color and the many gender-diverse individuals, marginalized communities, and victims of gender-based violence who are at the heart of YWCA’s mission. Race and gender discrimination, stalking, and online harassment remain a daily reality—and no misguided statements by Supreme Court justices about “color blindness”, free speech, or executive action will change this. The Court’s decisions this week are out of step with the inclusive vision of America that YWCA and the majority of our nation believe in.

To the young women of color and marginalized communities impacted most directly by these decisions, we need to say it loudly and say it together: We see you, we believe in you, and we vow to do all in our power to create a democracy that is worthy of the futures you will build for yourselves, your families, and this nation. In the coming months, YWCA will continue to get up and do the work of equity—to level the steep barriers the Court has erected, to contain these decisions from expansion into other sectors of our lives, to advance legislation that opens pathways so that all can thrive. And as we head into the 2024 election cycle, we are rolling up our sleeves and getting to work to make sure that every eligible voter is registered, informed, and mobilized to participate in what is certain to be an enormously consequential election.

 We know that we must be resilient in this moment, and we invite you to sign up to join YWCA in the work ahead. Now, more than ever, we need every voice raised and every person engaged to build the movement that will finally deliver on the promise of equality for all.”