SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Advocates and lawmakers from across the country united Thursday for the first-ever San Francisco Pride Human Rights Summit in preparation to continue the battle for LGBTQ+ rights.
"I feel like everything crept up in a very scary way in terms of all these bills that are popping up across the country, affecting and impacting LGBTQ+ rights," said MichelIe Meow, producer and host at the Commonwealth Club of California, which hosted the summit.
"Even between different red states or maybe different approaches and different methods," said Sue Robbins with Equality Utah Transgender Advisory Council. "We need to use to engage both the public and the legislators in order to be effective."
Robbins has long been on the frontlines fighting for transgender rights in Utah.
"If we share these thoughts and share what works, then we can help to have more equality across the country and start shifting the tide away from this wave of bills to more positive efforts for our community," Robbins said.
The ACLU is currently tracking nearly 500 bills taking aim at LGBTQ+ rights -- many of them aimed at transgender youth, like 18-year-old Oleander, who fled from Georgia and now lives in San Francisco.
"I feel safer. I feel more accepted," said Oleander. "I feel like I'm more likely to pass here because people just care a lot less about what gender you are here."
"People do come here to be who they are, and I came here to be who I was. I knew that as a young child that if I could get here someday, I could be me," said Suzanne Ford, executive director of SF Pride, noting a key piece to the summit is learning ways to support those fighting in states hit hardest by hate. "I'm proud of San Francisco Pride because this is the work that we're supposed to do, to use our platform to help people in our community."
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