Kids are harmed as anti-LGBT opponents fight to undermine marriage equality

This blog was written as part of the LGBTQ Families Day

Three years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, and, in doing so, married same-sex couples–and the estimated 300,000 children they are raising—gained important legal protections and recognition. However, in the years since, there has been a coordinated effort in the form of stigma, discrimination, and systematic attempts to undermine marriage equality, jeopardizing the safety and security of children. Most recently, two states passed laws that restrict fostering and adoption placements for LGBT parents, reflecting a disturbing trend in states across the country towards religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws, putting children at risk.

Out today, MAP’s newest report, Putting Children at Risk: How Efforts to Undermine Marriage Equality Harm Children, was co-authored with Family Equality Council. The report shows how these coordinated efforts pose a profound threat to the children in LGBT families.

One of the primary efforts that is gaining traction involves individuals, businesses, government contractors, and even government employees claiming they have a right to discriminate against LGBT people, including the children of LGBT people. These license to discriminate efforts, reflected in legislation, court cases, and agency guidance around the country, attempt to allow discrimination by government officials, child welfare providers, healthcare providers, and even private business owners. This has an especially harmful impact on both existing LGBT families and LGBT parents seeking to adopt or start a family.

Just this year, two states—Oklahoma and Kansas—have passed laws allowing child welfare agencies to discriminate against prospective families, leaving the nation’s most vulnerable children with fewer prospective parents.

The report also highlights the states that have refused to fully recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, as well as the legal ties between those parents and their children, including failing to issue accurate birth certificates to children born to same-sex couples or denying recognition to a same-sex parent as a parent in a custody dispute. By refusing to recognize these marriages, opponents of LGBT equality are actively trying to deny same-sex couples the rights and protections that flow from marriage, making it harder for LGBT parents to ensure their children get the care and security they need.

Any day now, the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. This case has the potential to undo decades of nondiscrimination laws by allowing businesses to pick and choose which customers to serve. For children raised by LGBT parents, in particular, the stakes are high. A same-sex couple could be refused pregnancy and birth healthcare services, a child with two mothers could be denied entrance to their local preschool, a child could be refused critical medical treatment because she was denied an accurate birth certificate listing both parents, or a qualified, loving same-sex couple could be rejected from fostering a child in need.

These aren’t hypotheticals, unfortunately. As detailed in the report, in states without nondiscrimination laws and in states where legislatures have pushed license to discriminate legislation, children are harmed.

All children deserve the right to a stable, secure family. Efforts to undermine marriage equality jeopardize the security and safety of children raised by same-sex couples.

Third Circuit hears a case highlighting how transgender students are harassed and singled out in schools

Tomorrow, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals will hear an important case about whether transgender students can safely attend school.

The case, Doe v. Boyertown, was brought by a student under the pseudonym Joel Doe. Doe attends the Boyertown Area School District in Pennsylvania, which allows transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. Doe is arguing that his school should be required to ban transgender male students from using the same school facilities—like restrooms and locker rooms—as other male students.

Schools are well-equipped to manage the different needs of students in these settings—and they’ve shown they can provide additional privacy for students who want it, while also ensuring that transgender students can access facilities consistent with their gender identity. Excluding transgender students from school facilities that match their gender identity is humiliating, discriminatory, and adds to the bullying and mistreatment that far too many transgender students already face. If transgender students cannot safely access a restroom, they cannot safely attend school.

According to GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey, transgender students who experience exclusion and discrimination are more likely to miss school than other students. The survey also showed that 75% of transgender students felt unsafe at school, and 70% report avoiding bathrooms at school. MAP’s 2017 report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities, further illustrates the significant hostility, discrimination, and bullying that transgender youth face in schools around the country. It also highlights the lack of explicit policy protections for transgender students in most states. (For more on the state of LGBT protections in schools around the country, see MAP’s Safe Schools Laws Equality Map.)

School policies should protect students from bullying and isolation; they shouldn’t promote it. And, a growing number of courts agree that Title IX’s ban on sex-based discrimination in education means that transgender students’ rights must also be protected. Specifically, transgender students must be allowed to use facilities that match their gender identity.

Transgender students, like other students—and like all of us—care about safety and privacy in places like restrooms and locker rooms. Every student also deserves a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender.

The Wage Gap and LGBT Women

Today is Equal Pay Day, which reflects the approximate number of extra days the typical woman must work to in 2018 to make what the typical man made in 2017 alone. Based on data from the Census Bureau, in 2018 a woman earns $0.80 for every $1.00 earned by a man.

Despite significant progress made over the past 50 years, women’s economic security is still extremely vulnerable. For example, when the wage gap is combined with attempts by the Trump Administration to create a right to refuse vital health care, or efforts in states to thwart paid family leave, women are at even greater risk of economic insecurity.

But that’s not the whole story.

We also know this disparity is worse for women of color and LGBT women.

For LGBT women, discrimination and stigma because of their sexual orientation and gender identity mean that they and their families are especially vulnerable to economic insecurity. Read more in MAP’s groundbreaking report, Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America, released in 2015.

Addressing the ways in which all women are forced to pay an unfair price requires that LGBT women, women of color, parents, and all women, be treated equally.

INFOGRAPHICS: Religious Refusals in Health Care

Across the country, there is a growing effort to create religious exemptions in many areas of life. Religious exemptions are carve outs to existing laws and policies that aim to allow people, organizations, or businesses to be exempt from a law if they claim that the law violates their religious or moral beliefs. In the context of healthcare, these exemptions result in doctors medical providers refusing to provide medical care. These “religious refusals” can even allow hospital administrators to keep a doctor from providing the best care to their patients because the hospital objects to providing that care, even if the doctor doesn’t.

For example, some exemptions mean women could be denied birth control or other health care coverage because of their employer’s religious beliefs, and LGBT people can be denied basic services because of a doctor’s disapproval of who they are or the care they need. Allowing healthcare providers to ignore standard medical best practices and instead put their personal beliefs before patient health has the potential to gravely harm millions of people and their families’ health. Patients’ health and wellbeing should always come first.

These graphics show the impact and implications of religious refusals. Learn more in MAP’s latest report: Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster.

NEW REPORT: A Prescription for Disaster

MAP is sounding the alarm. Did you know there is a coordinated and widespread push to pass a variety of religious exemptions laws that would give medical professionals a license to discriminate against their patients? The Trump Administration, in particular, has made a dramatic effort to insert religious refusals into peoples’ health care. Earlier this year, the Administration’s announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Department of Health and Human Services, and 

proposed rules that seek to radically expand the ability of health care providers and institutions to deny patients care based on religious or moral beliefs. And tomorrow, March 27, the comment period this dangerous new proposed rule closes. Click here to share your story with the Trump Administration and let them know that personal beliefs should never override patient care.

These religious refusal laws are undermining the very foundation of our medical system, which should be to put patients first and to do no harm.

To bring attention to the coordinated strategy to insert religious refusals into the health care of millions of people, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and the National Center for Transgender Equality released a new report, Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster. This new report examines the impact of religious refusals on people’s health and wellbeing, and showcases the broad and dangerous implications of these refusals on LGBT people, women, people of color, low-income people, religious minorities, and more.

What can happen when health providers are able to refuse treatment and choose which patients they wish to serve?

  • Creating a health care system when patients’ health comes second to health care providers’ personal beliefs.
  • Restricting access to a wide range of reproductive health care, including emergency care.
  • Allowing healthcare providers to limit information shared with patients
  • Refusing health care for patients because of who they are, including women, transgender people, LGBT people, and children of LGBT parents.
  • Permitting refusals of care for sexual health, including sexually-transmitted infection and HIV-related health care.

Click here to learn more about how religious refusals are comprising patient health: Religious Refusals in Health Care: A Prescription for Disaster

Two New Rulings Affirm LGBT Discrimination is Prohibited Under Federal Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is sex discrimination.

So says two federal courts in the span of one week. On February 28, 2018, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express. The Court found that Title VII, a federal law, protects people from being discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation. More specifically, the Court found that employment discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

And then on March 7, 2018, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of a funeral home director who was fired after telling her employer that she was transitioning from male to female. The case, Stephens v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, affirmed previous rulings from the 6th Circuit that discrimination based on gender identity was prohibited discrimination under Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination. The funeral home also claimed that they were exempt from the law because of their religious beliefs, and the Court rejected that claim.

MAP updated its Title VII explainer to reflect these rulings—in which the the 2nd Circuit Court became the second federal court of appeals to make such a ruling in a sexual orientation case.

So, what does Title VII cover, and why is this important to LGBT people? What does sex discrimination have to do with discrimination against LGBT people?

Title VII is a federal civil rights law that protects people from being discriminated against in employment because of their sex, race, religion, and other characteristics. Federal law does not explicitly list “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” as protected categories, but—as shown in our updated infographic—many federal courts and agencies argue that discrimination on the basis of “sex” covers LGBT people anyway. Here’s why.

When someone is discriminated against for being LGBT, that discrimination is a form of sex discrimination because “but for” their sex, they would not face such discrimination. Take the example of a lesbian being fired after being seen holding hands with her wife. If she were a man, she would not be fired. “But for” her being a woman, she would not have experienced that discrimination. The same is true for workers are who are seen as qualified until they begin a gender transition and then are discriminated against for being transgender. “But for” their gender, they would not have faced such discrimination.

Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on sex is not only about one’s sex, but also about sex stereotypes and whether one adheres to those stereotypes. The Supreme Court has held that illegal discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes and whether a person adheres to those stereotypes. For example, discrimination based on sexual orientation rests on the stereotype that men are or should be attracted only to women, and that women are or should be attracted only to men. Similarly, gender identity discrimination is sex discrimination because it is rooted in views that transgender or gender nonconforming people don’t fit the idea of how a man or woman “should” be. Discriminating against an employee who fails to conform to stereotypes in the workplace, including hair style and style of dress, is discrimination based on sex because the discrimination is rooted in stereotypes about how men and women should appear, act, and dress.

And protections under Title VII are vital for LGBT people because they face frequent discrimination. For example, one-quarter of LGBT people reportedpersonally experienced discrimination at work in the past year alone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and 27% of transgender people said they had been fired, not hired, or denied a promotion in the past year.

The positive decision in Mr. Zarda’s case in the 2nd Circuit Court and in Aimee Stephen’s case in the 6th Circuit are extremely important for LGBT people around the country. In many states, as well as under federal law, there are no explicit protections for LGBT people in the workplace.

These decisions strengthen the growing number of judicial decisions recognizing that protections against sex discrimination include protections for LGBT people.

Donate here to support MAP as we continue to track and support ongoing court cases and conduct research to speed equality for LGBT people!

 

Infographics: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People

Because bisexual people are frequently swept into the greater lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, their specific disparities are all too often made invisible within data about the whole community.

Did you know? More women identify as bisexual than men. Bisexual people comprise more than half of the LGB population, yet they experience violence, poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers—all pointing toward an urgent need to provide services and support for this segment of the community.

These graphics illustrate the disparities facing bisexual people.

Read more in MAP’s report Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them

Title IX Still Protects Transgender Students, Even if DeVos Won’t

Earlier this month, the Trump Administration targeted transgender students again. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education is no longer accepting or investigating complaints from transgender students who are denied access to the bathrooms and facilities that match their gender identity. Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act protects all students from discrimination based on sex, and denying transgender students access to facilities because of their gender identity is discrimination based on sex.

This announcement came almost a year to the day after the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind Obama-era guidance that clarified that Title IX protections include protections for transgender students.

So, what is Title IX and who does it protect, exactly?

As shown in our updated infographic, Title IX is part of the federal Civil Rights Act, and it ensures that students must be afforded the same dignity, protection, and opportunity under the law regardless of their race or ethnicity, national origin, religion, or sex.

More recently, in 2016 under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice explicitly stated that Title IX protections include protections for transgender students.

Yet, just days after assuming her role as President Trump’s Secretary of Education, Secretary DeVos rescinded that guidance, leaving students vulnerable to discrimination and harassment. This month’s announcement that the Department of Education won’t investigate claims filed by transgender students confirms yet again that President Trump and Secretary DeVos have endorsed the belief that transgender students are less deserving of protection than their peers.

This is particularly disturbing given the extensive bullying, violence, and discrimination faced by transgender students, as shown in MAP’s infographic. According to the 2015 National School Climate Survey, fully 75% of transgender students say they feel unsafe at school because of their gender expression, and 70% say they have avoided using school bathrooms as a result. By refusing to protect transgender students’ rights to use the bathroom – something we all have to do every day – Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration are perpetuating the bullying, violence, and unsafe environment that ultimately deny transgender students their right to an education.

Despite Secretary DeVos’ announcement, schools around the country continue to have a legal obligation to protect transgender students’ rights, including the right to use bathrooms and facilities that match their gender identity. And the courts agree.

Our infographic shows that both the Sixth and Seventh Circuits have already ruled that Title IX’s protections include transgender students. Thanks to the hard work of our friends at the Transgender Law Center and the courageous efforts of a transgender student named Ash Whitaker, the Seventh Circuit’s unanimously found that transgender students are protected not only by Title IX, but by the U.S. Constitution itself.

More cases are also working their way through courts around the country, similarly defending the rights of transgender students under Title IX and the Constitution.

The Department of Education says its mission is “to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” Whether or not President Trump or Secretary DeVos choose to uphold this mission, the law still protects transgender students and their rights to equal access and education.

Support the Movement Advancement Project by sharing this content or making a donation!

New Graphics: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws

MAP’s latest report shows how a lack of nondiscrimination protections in public accommodations puts LGBT people at risk in their everyday lives. At least 25% of LGBT people experience discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. As a result, many LGBT people are forced to change their daily lives just to get through the day without harassment or fear.

As part of the LGBT Policy Spotlight: Public Accommodations Nondiscrimination Laws, MAP launched a series of free, shareable infographics.

INFOGRAPHICS: Transgender Youth & School Facilities

Did you know there are an estimated 150,000 transgender youth between the ages of 13 and 17 in America? GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey found that 75% of transgender students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression, 50% report being unable to use the name or pronoun that matches their identity and 70% report avoiding bathrooms. Excluding transgender students is humiliating and discriminatory and adds to the bullying and mistreatment that far too many transgender students already face.

MAP’s report, released in partnership with the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Education Association (NEA) in May 2017, shows how excluding transgender students from school facilities that match their gender is not only unnecessary, but profoundly harmful. As the report shows, this argument is not just about bathrooms, but it is about whether or not transgender students will be included in our public education system. Put simply, if transgender students cannot safely access a bathroom, they cannot safely attend school.

Read more in the report, Separation and Stigma: Transgender Youth & School Facilities, as well as in our guide Talking About Transgender Students & School Facilities.