eBook: The Biggest Social Justice Issues of The Decade (2010 – 2020)
The 201*s decade has been one of major milestones for the LGBTQI+ community.
In 2011, the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was formally repealed allowing gay men to officially serve – publicly – in the armed forces. By 2012, the Democratic Party becomes the first major US political party in history to publicly support same-sex marriage on a national platform at the Democratic National Convention and just two months later, Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician and the first Wisconsin woman to be elected to the US Senate.
In September 2015, the United States Supreme Court made a landmark federal ruling under the Obama Administration when gay marriage became a legal right across the country. Currently, LGBTQI+-related legislation is in progress in every state.
More recently, District of Columbia residents can now choose a gender-neutral option of their driver’s license, furthering the support and recognition for all sexualities. DC residents become the first people in the United States to be able to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses and identification cards. Similar policies exist in Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal.
While the progress in the past years has been monumentous, the community is not without grief. The community is plagued with hate crimes from those whose religions do not support the community and/or don’t understand it, bringing tragedies such as the Pulse Nightclub massacre in 2016.
In this section, we will briefly highlight:
• Issues of institutional and personal discrimination
• Difficulties in accessing fair and comprehensive health care
• Incidence of poverty among this community
For example, debates over immigration and health care issues have also started to invoke civil rights concerns and comparisons. Several self-described “religious freedom” laws have been introduced in states and municipalities across the country, which essentially permit business owners or officials to refuse service to individuals based on their religious convictions.
Targeting, Abuse, & Poverty
The American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups are concerned about anti-LGBT bills in local and state legislatures. In practice, such bills could mean a government official refusing to recognize a marriage license, or a business declining to provide service to an individual or a couple if they disapprove of their way of life.
Discrimination at a policy level isn’t the only challenge for these individuals. According to the FBI, 20 percent of hate crimes were motivated by sexual
orientation in 2013, while Pew Research indicates that one out of three LGBT people have been physically attacked or threatened.
Health care is another area where bias and prior history negatively affect this population. Lambda Legal has reported that over half of LGBT individuals report
discrimination by healthcare providers. In another example, The American Journal of Public Health published a paper concluding that heterosexual health care
providers pervasively favor heterosexual patients. LGBTQI+ individuals also have specific challenges and barriers in accessing health coverage have higher reported rates of drug use, mental illness and chronic illness.
Partially due to employment discrimination, gay and lesbian families are more likely to live in poverty. The statistics vary based on intersectional demographics,
but for instance, according to The Williams Institute (UCLA School of Law), African-American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type, and the rate for children living with lesbian couples is 37.7 percent.
How LGBTQI+ Bias Affects Children and Teens
The controversy over the rights of queer adults affects countless families. Nontraditional parents are concerned about bills such as the Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act in Alabama and others like it in other states, which would create barriers to adoption and inclusion in their families. Such bills allow adoption agencies affiliated with religious organizations to deny adoptions by same-sex couples.
Conversely, because of ignorance and bigotry, some families of origin become inhospitable and untenable for LGBTQI+ youth, so they flee their homes with nowhere to go. LGBTQI+ identified people are only five to 10 percent of the general population, yet they may constitute 20 to 40 percent of the nation’s