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April 18, 2014

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Chelsea Clinton: ‘We have a lot more work to do’ for LGBT rights

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Steve Marcus

Chelsea Clinton delivers closing remarks during the Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive conference at Bally’s on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.

Chelsea Clinton at HRC’s Time to Thrive

Vinnie Pompei, conference chair and director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's Youth Well-Being Project, and Chelsea Clinton wave after closing remarks during HRC's Time to Thrive conference at Bally's on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. Launch slideshow »

Chelsea Clinton stepped to the podium at the Bally’s Events Center to the tune of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit rap song “Same Love.”

The song about equal rights for lesbians and gays set the stage for the message she delivered Sunday to the youth service professionals at the inaugural Time to Thrive national conference addressing safety, inclusion and well-being for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. The conference was put on by the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization fighting for equality for the LGBT community.

“We should not mistake progress for success,” Clinton said, “because we have a lot more work to do.”

Last year brought more advancement for the LGBTQ community than any other year, she said. Seventeen states now recognize same-sex marriage, and the Justice Department has instructed employees to extend protection to those couples.

Former NBA player Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in a major sport, and now others are following his example.

Even with these advancements, Clinton said changing laws could only affect so much. More needs to be done to help the nation’s LGBTQ youth, who remain the most vulnerable to bullying, abuse and rejection.

“(Human Rights Campaign’s) landmark report 'Growing up LGBT in America' drives this home, saying the deck is stacked against LGBTQ young people,” Clinton said.

According to the study, she said, half of LGBTQ youth are verbally harassed by gay slurs, and they are twice as likely to be kicked, shoved or assaulted. Meanwhile, 43 percent say their community is not supportive, and only 20 percent feel there are safe spaces or resources they can use in their town.

“Those are all statistics that you in the room can change,” Clinton said.

In her speech she also echoed a belief of her mother, Hillary Clinton: The issue of women’s rights is the unfinished business of the 21st century.

To end her speech, she called those in attendance to action.

“It’s my hope that if we all continue to work together,” Clinton said, "in the not-too-distant future, every child — whether LGBTQ or straight — can go to sleep every night knowing they are safe and secure, and dream about who they want to be, where they want to live and who they want to love without those dreams being shadowed.”

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