Why Coming Out Day Can Be Hard for Incarcerated Youth

Did you know that 58% of girls in America’s juvenile justice facilities identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning?  That’s according to analysis of data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. And the majority of LGBTQ youth—a shocking 85%—in the juvenile justice system are youth of color, according to a national survey conducted by Ceres Policy Research.  

For these LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system, coming out or being out can be fraught. Coming Out Day is a national day of awareness and celebration of LGBTQ people celebrated every October. This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day.  

That’s because LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system face high rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence, as detailed in a report from the Movement Advancement Project, the Center for American Progress, and Youth First. Gay and bisexual boys, for example, were nearly 11x more likely than straight boys to report sexual violence. Many LGBTQ youth are also subjected by biased staff members to harmful conversion therapy and sex-offender counseling simply because the youth is LGBTQ, while many are also denied critical medical care. Finally, lack of supportive services and limits on family visitation mean LGBTQ youth who are incarcerated are often denied equal opportunities to successfully reenter their communities upon release. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s clear that much reform is needed to reduce the number of youth incarcerated, to improve the opportunities and safety of youth in the system, and to support youth as they reach adulthood. For example, it is still the case that youth who are 17 years old in four states (Georgia, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin) are automatically charged as adults. In five other states (Louisiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina) changes to keep children under 18 out of the adult system have not yet gone into full effect. The Michigan legislature has begun to take up reform legislation this fall.   

Especially today, as the LGBT movement and the nation highlight the need for support, acceptance, and welcoming spaces for LGBTQ youth, it is crucial that we look for ways to support LGBTQ youth in our country’s juvenile justice halls, our jails, and our adult prisons.  

Share these graphics and your own national coming out (#NCOD) for youth justice (#YJAM and) increase the visibility and awareness of the needs of LGBTQ youth in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

LGBTQ Discrimination on College Campuses

Coming Out Week is here and for thousands of people across the country, this is a week of celebration and visibility of the LGBTQ community.

But for some students on college campuses, coming out can be dangerous—resulting in discrimination, harassment, or even expulsion.

Unfortunately, laws protecting LGBTQ students from discrimination are under attack. According a new brief released today by MAP and the National Center for Transgender Equality, Title IX, Religious Exemptions and Campus Climate: LGBT Protections in Higher Education, the expansion of the ability of colleges and universities to claim a religious exemption to federal nondiscrimination laws can have a profoundly negative impact on LGBTQ students. These risks include threats of expulsion, increased disciplinary action simply for being LGBT, being denied participation in extracurricular activities, or forced into conversion therapy or counseling.

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded educational institutions, including colleges and universities. For years, Title IX protections have been a critical protection for LGBTQ students—and not just for K-12 students.

In 2014, the Obama administration issued official guidance clarifying that transgender students are protected from discrimination based on Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination. However, in 2017, the Trump administration rescinded that guidance. In February of this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced that they will no longer be investigating complaints of discrimination filed by transgender students.

What’s worse, according a recent leaked draft of new proposed rules from the Department of Education, the Department is exploring expanding the ability of schools to claim religious exemptions, and allowing schools to claim such an exemption without even notifying the Department of Education. This means schools basically have a de facto exemption from Title IX.

Importantly, federal Title IX continues to prohibit discrimination based on sex, and many courts have held explicitly includes discrimination based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

What does this mean for LGBTQ students?

Many campuses provide a welcoming and supportive campus climate for LGBTQ students including nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity; provide facilities access and equal housing for LGBTQ students; establish preferred name policies; and support and prioritize the needs of LGBTQ student-led organizations, including those measured by The Campus Pride Index. However, there are an increasing number of campuses that are seeking religious exemptions to following even the basic nondiscrimination requirements of Title IX. Because of the reduced oversight from the federal government guided by actions from the Trump administration, it is likely more universities will request religious exemptions with regard to LGBTQ students, allowing them to discriminate against students on their campuses.

Is there any recourse?

Yes! As the brief points out, federal courts have determined that federal sex discrimination laws, including Title IX, prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or sexual orientation.

Just like in K-12 schools, universities have a responsibility to ensure a safe campus environment for all students and to follow federal law. It is crucial to foster inclusion on campus so that LGBTQ students have the same chance as other students to pursue an education and be prepared to support themselves.

Click here to read Title IX, Religious Exemptions and Campus Climate: LGBT Protections in Higher Education.

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New Poll: Americans Believe Businesses Should Be Open to All

New Harris Poll data released today shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that businesses should be open to all and should not be allowed to deny services to people based on their race, ethnicity or national origin (87%), sex (87%), sexual orientation (81%), gender identity (80%), religion (85%) or disability (88%).

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, surveyed 2,006 U.S. adults, including 184 respondents who identified as LGBT, from Sept. 13-17, 2018. Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • 75% of Americans believe when businesses open their door to the public, they should be open to all and serve everyone on the same terms—compared to the 25% of respondents who say that businesses should be able to refuse to provide services to certain customers if that would go against their religious beliefs.
  • 89% of Americans say they are likely to support, shop at, or work for a business that declares it does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or disability.

Additional findings from the new Harris Poll can be found here.

Click here to read more about the Harris Poll and Open to All in this article in USA Today.

Be An Ally! Support #SafeSchools for All Students!

This week is Ally Week, a student-led program where LGBTQ K- 12 students and educators lead the conversation on what they need from allies in school. This important week of dialogue and understanding is organized by our colleagues at GLSEN.

Every student deserves a fair chance to learn and thrive in school—including students who are transgender. However, according to the 2015 National School Climate Survey, 70% of transgender students said they avoided bathrooms because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

Last week, MAP and GLSEN released a new ad, “Hallway” showing how harmful it can be to force transgender students to use a separate restroom, putting them at risk of bullying and abuse. Transgender students, like all students, want a chance to learn, graduate, and make their families proud, without having to be scared every time they need to do something as basic as using the restroom.

That’s why GLSEN and MAP have launched the Safe Schools Movement campaign to encourage parents, educators, youth, and policymakers to advocate for safe schools for LGBTQ youth.

This Ally Week, there are plenty of ways to take action and support safe schools for all students:

  • WATCH AND SHARE: Watch the new Hallway ad and share it on social media using the #supportsafeschools hashtag.
  • READ MORE in the exclusive article in Teen Vogue.
  • TAKE ACTION: Join the Safe Schools Movement!
  • LEARN more about transgender students and their experiences in school in a new brief from MAP, GLSEN, and NCTE.
  • HAVE A CONVERSATION with your friends and family about supporting safe schools for transgender students. Check out the resources available at www.supportsafeschools.org
  • SUPPORT MORE ADS LIKE “HALLWAY”: Donate $25 to support MAP’s hard-hitting ads that are changing the national conversation about transgender students.

 

Ten Things You (Maybe) Didn’t Know About Bisexual People

  1. 5% of women and 2% of men identify as bisexual.
  2. People who identify as bisexual comprise more than half—52%–of all LGB people in the United States.
  3. People of color are more likely to identify as bisexual, and women of color comprised 36% of bisexual women, compared to 26% of heterosexual women.
  4. 1 in 5 (21%) transgender people identify as bisexual.
  5. Bisexual people are more likely to be parents than gay men or lesbians.
  6. Nearly half (48%) of bisexual older women live in poverty.
  7. 31% of bisexual people report being sexually harassed at work because of their sexuality.
  8. Bisexual people are more likely than all U.S. adults to live on less than $30,000 a year.
  9. 47% of bisexual students report one or more instances of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  10. Bisexual people are at greater risk for mental and physical health disparities, including being more like to have anxiety and mood disorders.

September 23 is the start of Bisexual Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising the visibility of the LGBT community’s invisible majority.

All too often, bisexual people are grouped in with the broader LGB community, and when that happens, their specific disparities and challenges are made invisible—leaving them without the specific care and support that address their unique challenges.

The evidence is clear: bisexual people face serious disparities; yet, research and data about bisexual people and their lives is limited at best. That’s why, in September 2016, MAP released a report, Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them, which found that bisexual people face discrimination and stigma both from the LGBT community and from non-LGBT people. This creates myriad disparities for bisexual people including economic insecurity, increased violence, and poorer health.

This #BiWeek2018, learn more about the unique challenges facing bisexual people with resources from MAP. The following resources offer an overview into the lives of bisexual people:

Special thanks to our partners at SAGE, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Bisexual Organizing Project (BOP), the Bisexual Resource Center (BRC), and BiNet USA who have been invaluable partners in creating these crucial resources.

 

Support Safe Schools for Transgender Students

Imagine not being able to use the bathroom at school, or being called the wrong name by your teachers or principal. All too often, that’s what transgender students face in school, making it impossible for them to attend school safely.

A new ad, “Hallway” produced by MAP and released today in partnership with GLSEN shows how just how harmful it can be to force transgender students to use a separate restroom, putting them at risk of bullying and abuse.

Read more about “Hallway” and the Safe Schools Movement in this exclusive from Teen Vogue.

Everyone, including transgender students, cares about safety and privacy in restrooms and locker rooms. School districts across the country have successfully worked to ensure that transgender students have access to facilities that match their gender identity while still protecting the privacy of all students. However, only 14 states plus the District of Columbia have laws explicitly prohibiting discrimination in schools on the bases of gender identity and sexual orientation.

To fill in the gap in state laws, many school districts were turning to the federal government for protections. In 2014, the Obama administration issued official guidance clarifying that transgender students are protected from discrimination based on Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination. However, the Trump administration recently rescinded that guidance, signaling that transgender students cannot count on their federal government for support. And, in February of this year, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced that they will no longer be investigating complaints of discrimination filed by transgender students.

According to a new brief released by today by MAP, GLSEN, and the National Center for Transgender Equality, more laws and policies are needed to ensure transgender students can fully participate in school.

Every student deserves a fair chance to learn and thrive in school—including students who are transgender. And our schools have a responsibility to protect all students from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

MAP is teaming up with GLSEN, the leading education organization working to create safe and inclusive K-12 schools, to launch the Safe Schools Movement to advocate for safe schools for LGBTQ youth.

Join the Safe Schools Movement and take action today: www.glsen.org/safeschools

National Suicide Prevention Week

Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week 2018 (Sept. 9-15)—a vital opportunity to be part of conversations about the importance of suicide prevention, advancing awareness of warning signs, and much more.

Last year, MAP, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the Johnson Family Foundation released the 2nd edition of Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations, a fully updated resource for safe and accurate messaging about suicide and LGBT people.

También está disponible en español http://lgbtmap.org/como-hablar-sobre-el-suicidio

The guide provides effective approaches for helping ensure that public conversations about LGBT suicide do not contribute to misinformation or risk of contagion among vulnerable people. By lifting up the role of resilience, family acceptance and peer support—as well as examining contributions of individual, interpersonal, community and societal risk factors—Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations provides facts about suicide and LGBT people, as well as ways to talk about suicide safely, accurately, and in ways that advance vital public discussions about preventing suicide among LGBT people and supporting their health and well-being.

Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations was produced in partnership with the Center for American Progress, GLAAD, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the National LGBTQ Task Force, PFLAG, SAGE, the Transgender Law Center, and The Trevor Project.

For information about receiving print copies of the guide, please contact Molly Tafoya, MAP’s Director of Community Engagement at mtafoya@lgbtmap.org

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

LGBT Employees Lack Crucial Protections

You may be surprised to learn that LGBT employees lack explicit federal protections against employment discrimination and face higher levels of harassment on the job. In fact, only 20 states plus Washington D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Click here to see a map of which states have updated their laws to ensure that LGBT are treated fairly at work.

The U.S. Supreme Court may soon hear a case featuring Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job R&G and G&R Harris Funeral Homes, after coming out as transgender. Last March, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Stephens and the EEOC finding that her firing at work was illegal under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex at work. The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan are representing Aimee Stephens in this case.

Last week, MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center released a new brief LGBT People in the Workplace which details the history, demographics and experiences of LGBT people in the workplace. Click here to learn more.

Nursing Home shows high risks for LGBT elders

Breaking news this week from Lambda Legal! The 7th Circuit has ruled in favor of their client Marsha Wetzel, a lesbian whose senior living facility failed to protect her from harassment, discrimination, & violence. “Nursing Home” shows the high risks for LGBT elders without nondiscrimination protections. It could mean providers, like nursing homes or senior living facilities, could turn people away and deny them care they need.

 

Who are LGBT Workers?

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day, the national holiday that commemorates the contributions of workers and the labor movement in the United States. Despite the holiday being more than 120 years old, there is still much to do to ensure that all people’s contributions at work are recognized and honored.

It’s shameful that most women—particularly women of color—still receive grossly unequal pay compared to men. For every $1 a man makes, women make 80 cents, but Black women make 63 cents, Native American women make 58 cents, and Latinas make only 54 cents for every $1 a man makes.

And, it may be shocking to realize that LGBT people go to work every day with few guarantees they will be hired and evaluated based on their contributions and not their sexual orientation or gender identity. What’s worse, most people aren’t aware of such inequalities: according to a 2013 survey, 69% of Americans believed that it was illegal to fire someone in the U.S. for being gay. But in reality, only 20 states and D.C. have laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Released today, LGBT People in the Workplace: Demographics, Experiences, and Pathways to Equity is an infographic report developed by MAP and the National LGBTQ Workers Center that summarizes the discrimination faced by LGBT people in the workplace. This visual primer explains the patchwork of legal protections available to LGBT people in the U.S., presents the demographic profiles of workers and the severe barriers they confront—in terms of hiring, firing, wages, and benefits—in the midst of an ever-changing economy.

Coauthored with the National LGBTQ Workers Center, this report includes the Center’s grassroots agenda for policy change, which deliberately focuses on LGBT people of color. Centered around worker-led advocacy efforts, the intersectional agenda seeks federal, state and local advocacy in order to create policy change for all LGBT people.

Establishing federal and state level LGBT protections is a pathway towards equality, but grassroots campaigns that are led by workers and prioritize workers’ rights can accelerate policy change. This report emphasizes that the marginalized experiences of transgender workers and workers of color must be prioritized if our goal is to completely eradicate discrimination against all LGBT people in the workplace and beyond.