A UF master’s student has co-founded a Twitter-trending LGBTQ+ campaign in response to a Supreme Court case.
Sander Jennings, a 21-year-old digital strategy master’s student, started the movement “We Are Here” with LGBTQ+ activist and Broadway actress Miss Peppermint. The campaign, which trended on Twitter for more than an hour when it launched on Twitter Jan. 26, includes videos and social media messages raising awareness for three ongoing Supreme Court cases deciding whether someone can be fired for being LGBTQ+.
“We don’t need hate in this world anymore,” Jennings said. “(The) LGBTQ community and all allies are not going anywhere.”
Jennings said this issue is extremely close to him because his sister Jazz is a transgender woman, and he can’t imagine a world where she could be fired just because of the way she identifies.
Jazz stars on a TLC show called “I Am Jazz,” which follows her life as a transgender teen. She and her family often travel to give speeches and win awards related to the show, Jennings said.
“She’s my hero. I’m just so proud of her for everything she does,” Jennings said. “Just trying to share her story to kind of show that it’s okay to be who you are, to be your authentic selves and that being transgender is okay.”
Jennings said everything started moving when Miss Peppermint, one of Jazz’s friends, told him about the Supreme Court cases in late November. The two have rounded up a group of people to start raising awareness, including “Orange is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox, “Hooked” director Max Emerson, transgender model Laith Ashley and many more.
“For me, the movement is really an effort to gain and spread awareness about not only the LGBTQ movement and equality, but also having a better awareness of how our government works and some of the things that are being said in the place that many of us are unaware of,” Miss Peppermint said.
Miss Peppermint said she had been in close contact with American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Chase Strangio who fights for LGBTQ+ rights in different states. Miss Peppermint attended a Supreme Court hearing with the ACLU lawyer to show support, and she became inspired to do something about it.
“I think it’s so destructive and something that we won’t stand for,” she said. “‘We Are Here’ is behind the initiative to, if not stop, at least spread awareness about what’s happening.”
Both Jennings and Miss Peppermint want people to know that no matter what happens at the Supreme Court level, raising awareness about what is happening is extremely important.
“It’s just it’s pretty clear that this is just discriminatory and an overall effort from the administration and/or anyone with the plan in advance to systematically make it more difficult for us,” Miss Peppermint said.
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Anna Wilder is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter. She's from Melbourne, Florida, and she enjoys being outdoors or playing the viola when she's not writing.