Celebrate Your Local LGBT Community Center

Today is LGBT Community Center Awareness Day!

For many people, LGBT community centers are critical and sometimes the only source of social, educational, and health services.

MAP and CenterLink released a new report in August showing the critical role LGBT community centers play in the lives of LGBT people and their families, serving more than 40,000 people each week and providing targeted referrals to nearly 5,500 people.

Not only do community centers provide crucial direct services, including free access to computers and programming, but community centers play a huge role in advancing policy change at the federal, state, and local levels. Nearly every community center (93%) engages in public education and advocacy with  88% of these LGBT community centers doing the difficult and important work of educating the public about issues that matter to LGBT people and their families. Half of centers (52%) offer voter registration, which is crucial to ensuring that LGBT people participate in elections that impact their lives. Click here to see a new infographic about advocacy efforts at LGBT community centers.

What’s also striking is that 25% of centers have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers. And, small centers with budgets of less than $150,000 are much more likely to have few or no paid staff.  Data from the 2018 LGBT Community Center Survey show that participating centers employ nearly 2,000 paid staff yet engage with more than 14,000 volunteers for nearly half a million volunteer hours annually.

So, if you’re looking for a way to support LGBT people in your community, consider making a donation to your community center—a proven way to strengthen the LGBT movement and provide support for LGBT people living across the country.

Click here to find and support the center nearest you.

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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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.

 

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.

LGBT Community Centers Are the Real MVP, But They Need Our Help

At a time when so many communities are feeling alienated, shunned, and discriminated against, having a place to go where you are welcomed and supported can be a huge relief, and even life-saving.  For many LGBT people, that place of refuge is LGBT community centers. Across the United States, LGBT community centers are a critical and sometimes only local source of targeted social, educational, and health services.

A new report released today from MAP and CenterLink shows the critical role LGBT community centers play in the lives of LGBT people and their families, serving more than 40,000 people each week and providing targeted referrals to nearly 5,500 people.

The report found that the 113 centers that reported 2017 revenue data have combined revenue of $226.7 million, with both large and small centers reporting an increase over the previous year. However, the report also found centers faced significant challenges, such as a lack of resources and paid staff—particularly among smaller centers. 25% of centers have no paid staff and rely solely on volunteers, and 32% have between one and five paid staff. As expected, small centers with budgets of less than $150,000 are much more likely to have few or no paid staff.

Strikingly, the report highlights that participating centers employ nearly 2,000 paid staff yet engage with more than 14,000 volunteers for nearly half a million volunteer hours annually.

That community centers provide a breadth of services including information and education, social programs, arts and cultural programs, legal services, and physical and mental health services despite being so under resourced is a testament to their sheer resiliency. Not only that, but 93% of centers are actively working to advance policy change at federal, state, and local levels.

Given the critical role of LGBT community centers in supporting LGBT people in all areas of the country—particularly areas with few other resources—and the invaluable impact centers have on shaping needed policy change, investing in community centers is one major way we can strengthen the LGBT movement and provide support for LGBT people living across the country. In other words, it’s a powerful way we can fight back.

Click here to find and support the center nearest you.

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.