WASHINGTON — A Democratic congress member from Wisconsin introduced two bills on Thursday to begin the process of creating a national museum for "American LGBTQ+ History and Culture" in D.C.
U.S. Representative Mark Pocan, a co-chair of the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, introduced the pair of bills ahead of the nation preparing to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month in October.
“As our community faces unprecedented attacks and attempts to erase our history, we must preserve and protect our stories for future generations,” Rep. Pocan said.
The bills would establish an eight-member commission to study the potential creation of the national museum and to establish it within the Smithsonian Institution. The bills would be required to be signed into law to become the newest Smithsonian.
Rep. Pocan said it is vital to remember our collective past, especially as certain states seek to constrain and repeal existing rights by passing bills that are harmful to LGBTQ+ youth and the community as a whole.
Among those states, Virginia recently made headlines due to Gov. Glenn Youngkin's proposed policies that would change how schools in the commonwealth treat transgender students. Thousands of students across the state, at nearly 100 schools, walked out of class Tuesday in protest.
"I am scared of this man," 17-year-old Casey Calabia said about Virginia governor to WUSA9. "My friends are scared of this man. How can he stand there and say he loves this country and loves this state if he wants to hurt us?"
During the process, the developed commission would look into the success of the potential Smithsonian museum by creating a plan of action for the establishment, a fundraising plan, identifying potential locations within the District to house the facility, and more. The commission would have 18 months to complete the full study. This is all apart of the first bill.
After the commission completes its work and issues its recommendations, Congress can consider the second bill to formally create the museum.
All nine openly LGBTQ+ Members of Congress as well as 50 other members are sponsors of this legislation, according to a news release.
"Let’s tell these stories, and honor the many contributions the LGBTQ+ community has made to this nation with a museum in Washington, D.C.," Rep. Pocan said. "I look forward to the passage of this legislation and to visiting this museum in the near future.”