NEW REPORT — Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America

Media coverage often portrays rural America as singularly white, conservative and working-class. Yet at least 10 million people of color, including LGBT people of color, call rural America home.

Today, MAP released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America, which examines the unique challenges of LGBT people of color in rural America and highlights distinct experiences across different communities of color. As the second publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural challenges of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against LGBT people of color. 

Click here to read the exclusive Advocate op-ed about the report.

MAP is thrilled to release this report in conjunction with the LGBTQ Presidential Forum—hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and GLAAD—which will be streamed live on MSNBC. Tune in and see MAP’s policy work take center stage along with the Democratic Party candidates. 

This report offers extensive new findings on LGBT people of color in rural communities, where discrimination based on race and immigration status is compounded by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Some key findings of the report include:

  • People of color, including those in rural areas, are more likely than white people to identify as LGBT: people of color comprise 42% of the national LGBT population, compared to 36% of the total U.S. population.
  • LGBT people of color in rural states are especially vulnerable to discrimination. Overall, rural states are significantly less likely than majority urban states to have vital nondiscrimination protections, and are also more likely to have harmful, discriminatory laws. 
  • LGBT people of color experience similar or higher rates of both poverty and unemployment compared to both non-LGBT people of color and white people. 
  • Smaller populations in rural communities mean any “difference” is more noticeable. For LGBT people of color, increased visibility as both people of color and as LGBT people in rural communities may mean further vulnerability.
  • LGBT people of color have fewer support structures and resources that accept them both as a person of color and someone who is LGBT. The relative social and geographic isolation of rural areas can compound this problem. For example, LGBT-focused programs in rural areas, if available at all, may not fully recognize or be equipped to support people who are both LGBT and a person of color, and programs for people of color in rural areas may not be accepting of people of color who are also LGBT.

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America.

Because LGBT people of color may experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their race or ethnicity, passing nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level is vital to ensure full participation in all aspects of life. Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America concludes with recommendations for community organizations, educators, healthcare providers and policymakers to address the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural communities.

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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BiWeek 2019

This week (September 16-23) is #BiWeek 2019! This is a week to celebrate the B in LGBT and to raise up the voices and experiences of bisexual people.

Despite a growing understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community and increased legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the experiences and realities of bisexual people has largely been invisible. Did you know bisexual people comprise about half (52%) of LGB people in the United States? Did you also know that violence, poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes within the bisexual population are often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers?

Far too often, bisexual people are frequently swept into the greater lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, as their specific disparities are made invisible within data about the LGB community as a whole. That’s why, in 2016, MAP released a groundbreaking report Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them, which focuses on the “invisible majority” of the LGBT community: dvthe nearly five million adults in the U.S. who identify as bisexual and the millions more who have sexual or romantic attraction to or contact with people of more than one gender.

Since then, MAP has released additional reports looking at bisexual older adults, bisexual transgender people and more. For #BiWeek 2019, check out MAP’s resources that provide an overview into the lives of bisexual people, including an introduction to the issues facing bisexual people.

Trump Administration Wants to Allow Taxpayer-Funded Organizations to Use Religious Litmus Test for Employees – Act Now!

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule that would give federal contractors a license to discriminate against their workers.

Under current federal law and existing presidential executive orders, federal contractors can’t discriminate against their workers based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The proposed rule would greatly expand the existing religious exemption for contractors to include for-profit companies and nearly any contractor who claims a religious objection to a worker. This means that a for-profit federal company could create a religious litmus test for workers, fire all workers who can’t meet the standards, and continue to receive federal contract dollars. This proposed rule would put religious minorities, LGBT people, single parents, women who use contraception or get an abortion, and many more at risk.

Religious freedom is a fundamental American value and it should not be used to harm or discriminate against others. And companies that receive federal contract dollars should not be permitted to discriminate against their workers. More than 20% of the U.S. workforce is employed by a federal contractor and these workers would be at risk for being fired.

The administration issued the rule and gave an abnormally short comment period, which ends on Monday, September 16. Share your concern about allowing taxpayer dollars to be used to discriminate by submitting a comment to the Department of Labor.

Fashion Industry Leaders Pledge to Be Open to All

Tapestry was joined by over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and the Open to All campaign, to make a powerful statement about the industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and protecting equality on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 in New York. (Loren Matthew/AP Images for Tapestry, Inc.)

Today, Tapestry Inc. (a leading New York-based house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle brands including Coach, kate spade new york and Stuart Weitzman), over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion joined Open to All, making a powerful statement about the fashion industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and embracing equality. Never before have so many fashion houses joined together in a single, unified campaign that sends a message that everyone is welcome, valued and respected.

This collective effort was inspired by Tapestry’s work with the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Founding Open to All signatories and fellow CEO Action members Levi Strauss & Co., Old Navy, and Gap Inc. joined Tapestry as they signed the Open to All pledge alongside more than 50 fashion houses and brands (see below for the full list of participating brands). We are grateful to Tapestry Inc., which partnered with Open to All to recruit these brands to join our campaign. Click here to read the press release.

This is a moment where fashion industry giants across America are sending a message: no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, or what style and expression makes you feel like you, you are welcome.  

We encourage all Open to All public education coalition members to please share this historic announcement out over social media. Below are some graphics and sample posts to share.

In the almost two years since Open to All’s inception, and thanks to the leadership of the Open to All coalition, we have had over 5,000 large and small businesses sign the business pledge. Tapestry has worked beyond the walls of their stores to bring the fashion industry together to join the growing Open to All campaign. Open to All continues to build a thriving, competitive, and inclusive America where customers and employees are valued, respected and welcomed regardless of who they are. Today’s announcement exemplifies the spirit of Open to All and creates true transformation.

May Is Older Adults Month

Older adults play an important role in our society, and enhance the vitality and richness of our families, neighborhoods, social networks, and lives. That’s why, every May, the Administration for Community Living leads a national observance of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme: Connect, Create, Contribute.

Although largely invisible until very recently, LGBTQ older adults make up a significant—and growing—share of both the overall LGBTQ population and the larger 65+ population. MAP recognizes that by engaging and supporting all community members we build a stronger society. We also recognize there are challenges for older Americans, especially those in the LGBTQ community, who face unique issues stemming from stigma, isolation, and discrimination. While confronted with the same challenges that face all people as they age, LGBTQ elders also face an array of unique barriers and inequalities that can stand in the way of a healthy and rewarding later life. Two MAP videos highlight just a few of the many challenges older LGBTQ adults face:

Our Nursing Home ad, released in partnership with SAGE and the Open to All coalition, illustrates the devastating harms many LGBTQ Americans face because of discrimination. The video features an older gay man and his family on the first day he moves into an assisted living facility. When the director of the facility learns the man is gay, he refuses to allow him to move in.

Our video, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults, which was created to supplement the report of the same name, follows Jackie and Tina, two women born in the same town during the same year, and whose lives take very different turns and takes a look at their unique needs and experiences.

Older Americans Month is an important reminder to celebrate all of the members of our community. Please join MAP as we join in the discussion and share suggestions, resources, and materials that provide valuable insights and data into the lives of LGBTQ older adults.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
The following sharable resources offer an overview into the lives of LGBTQ older adults.

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.