100 Women We Love: Deborah Lolai

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Deborah Lolai has been a fighter all her life. Raised in a traditional Persian Jewish community that rejects feminism and homosexuality, her sense of justice developed early. "A passion grew inside of me to combat the homophobia and sexism that was a defining part of my community life," she says. "All the work that I do springs from that passion." While an undergrad at City University of New York, Lolai co-founded the CUNY-Wide LGBT Task Force, organized countless events and demonstrations, and brought the largest display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the northeast on World AIDS Day. Now a law student at Touro Law Center, Lolai is continuing her activism by establishing gender-neutral bathrooms, convincing administrators to add gender expression and identity to their non-discrimination policy, and bringing mandatory faculty trainings and LGBT educational events to the school. A former Lambda Legal intern who will be working for Federal Defenders of New York this summer, Lolai can't wait to combine her legal degree with her activism. "Activists often need to be aggressive and forceful," she said. "Law school [is] giving me different tools to create change in an even more powerful way." –DN

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