By Eric Nguyen
This time last year, the LGBT community was in crisis. LGBT teens across the nation were being bullied to death. Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Zach Harrington were names that made headlines, along with more recent victims such as Jamey Rodemeyer and Jaime Hubley.
Though bullying is still a problem, everyone in the movement can say that it’s getting better. Indeed, this year, we’ve seen many victories in the effort towards equality: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been repealed, New York has become the most populous state in the country to legalize marriage equality, and many bullying victims are speaking up.
Despite the progress, there’s still plenty of work to do.
For example, a study recently released by the Family Equality Council shows that current laws hurt not only LGBT people but their families as well. According to the study, roughly two million children are being raised by LGBT parents, yet archaic and discriminatory laws along with social stigmas prevent these families from providing their children basic needs. As the study points out: “Children being raised by same-sex couples are twice as likely to live in poverty as children being raised by married heterosexual households.” The study, which is available at children-matter.org, goes into further detail about struggles of many LGBT headed families, as well as proposed solutions to the problem of inequality.
Another recent study put out by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, presented at the Outlaw Symposium on Transgender Issues in Law and Policy, shows that transgender people are still facing very high levels of discrimination. As the study shows, transgender individuals have double the unemployment rate, higher levels of discrimination in healthcare, and many report experiences of serious acts of discrimination such as job lost due to bias, eviction, bullying from both peers and teachers, and physical assault.
In a panel of advocates from major LGBT organizations, many stressed the importance of passing a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that included not only sexual orientation, but gender identity. Advocates also stressed the importance of allies in movement towards equality. “Feel free to jump in,” said an activist on how allies can help.
Humanists thus have a place at the table of LGBT equality, and in the coming months, the LGBT Humanist Council will be working with the LGBT movement to further the humanistic value of equality as well as give voice to LGBT humanists.
Most recently, we have signed onto a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support of fully funding a comprehensive sexuality education program, while urging members to not use taxpayer dollars on abstinence-only programs, which have been proven to be ineffective and highly stigmatizes LGBT students.
In addition to this, we have supported developing models of anti-bullying programs that would include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories, and add cyber-bullying as a type of harassment.
To keep up to date with the LGBT Humanist Council and the latest LGBT news visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LGBTHumanistCouncil.
Eric Nguyen is the field coordinator for the American Humanist Association.