Austin Police Department Sends a Message of Tolerance to Texans

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Members of the Lesbian and Gay Peace Officers Association (LGPOA) in Austin released a film last month aimed at supporting gay youths by offering their own stories of hope and encouragement.

The video, part of the “It Gets Better Project,” features 29 officers and civilian employees of the Austin Police Department, many of whom reveal intimate details of their own coming out stories.

At a press conference held for the video’s release, Police Chief Art Acevedo said his department believes in diversity. He also recalled getting into fights in high school because he defended another student who was bullied for being gay.

“It’s not who you love that makes a good person, but who you are,” he said.

Officer Steve McCormick said it was important to release the video in Texas because the state has a large number of young people in rural areas who may not have access to LGBT role models in their communities.

“We definitely believe this can serve as an example for Texas and for all law enforcement,” he said, noting that they hope the video will combat the perception that the law enforcement community is intolerant. “These are two groups that have historically struggled with reaching out to the LGBTQ community.”

Members of the LGPOA seek to build tolerance and unity with the community by partnering with organizations such as Out Youth. The group is also a member of the Austin/Travis County Hate Crimes Task Force, which works to improve the Prevention of Hate Crimes, Response to Hate Crimes, and Restoration from Hate Crimes.

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