Queer celebrities Alan Cumming, Dominique Jackson, Michael Urie, Alexandra Billings, and Margaret Cho are among the stars that are featured in a new public service announcement in support of the Religious Accountability Exemption Project (REAP), an organization fighting to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of marginalized LGBTQ+ students who attend faith-based schools and universities.
The ad breaks down how taxpayer dollars are being used to fund LGBTQ+ discrimination at these schools and colleges.
"Like most Americans, I was unaware that my tax dollars were being used to discriminate against and punish LGBTQ+ students at some religious universities for living their truth,” D’Angora, a longtime activist and Broadway producer, said in a news release.
D’Angorao organized the PSA. The producer and activist has raised over $1.5 million with virtual fundraisers featuring celebrities and notables such as Ryan Murphy. His fundraising has benefited the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative and New York City's historic Birdland Jazz Club, according to the release.
REAP filed a class-action lawsuit last year against the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of 33 plaintiffs from 25 evangelical and Latter-Day Saints colleges in 18 states. Throughout the past year, the plaintiffs have grown to 40 students in 20 states. The plaintiffs include a mix of current students, expelled students, and alumni who suffered conversion therapy or disciplinary action.
The lawsuit by REAP challenges how faith-based institutions of higher education can request exemptions to bypass antidiscrimination regulations when it comes to federal funding.
“Currently, more than 200 religiously affiliated colleges in the United States that receive taxpayer dollars are permitted to broadly discriminate against LGBTQ+ students,” said Paul Southwick, attorney and director at REAP. “Our laws should protect the health and welfare of all students, not perpetuate discrimination that harmfully targets people because of their sexual or gender identity.”
Celebrities featured in the PSA include Alexandra Billings (Transparent, The Conners), Margaret Cho (comedian), Pierre Boo and Nicky Champa (TikTok), Jackie Cox (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Kevin Daniels (Atypical), André De Shields (Hadestown), Desmond Is Amazing (author and “drag kid”), Dominique Jackson (Pose), Jason Rodriguez (Pose), Omar Sharif Jr. (GLAAD), and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty).
Watch the PSA below.