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Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination Persists Across the Country: Congressional Report

Anti-LGBTQ+ Discrimination Persists Across the Country: Congressional Report

David Cicilline

"The fight for equality in this country will not be over until we address all of these disparities and create true equity for the LGBTQ+ community," says U.S. Rep. David Cicilline.

LGBTQ+ Americans continue to face discrimination, violence, and other difficulties in many aspects of life, according to the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus's Inaugural Report on the Condition of LGBTQ+ People in the United States.

"LGBTQ+ people deserve the same opportunities to thrive as their non-LGBTQ+ peers. The data presented in this report shows, however, that the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ people are vastly different than those of our straight and cisgender neighbors," U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, chair of the caucus, said in a press release. "With the increasing rise of violence against the LGBTQ+ community and the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills being introduced in state legislatures and in Congress, it is especially critical that all levels of government work to ensure true lived equality for LGBTQ+ people. This includes by finally enacting the Equality Act into law to ensure comprehensive explicit nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people. Our ability to thrive in this country should not be limited due to our sexual orientation or gender identity. The fight for equality in this country will not be over until we address all of these disparities and create true equity for the LGBTQ+ community."

The report, released Friday, covers four areas: education, economic security, health care, and housing. "These four areas, though not comprehensive of the LGBTQ+ experience, are critical to people's wellbeing and help shine a light on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in today's society," says Cicilline's introduction to the report.

In education, the report found that LGBTQ+ students face much more bullying and harassment than their straight and cisgender peers. Citing data from GLSEN and from the federal government, it noted that majorities of LGBTQ+ students had experienced verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender, and significant minorities had faced physical threats or had actually been injured. Feeling unsafe at school had led many LGBTQ+ students to miss school or avoid extracurricular activities.

"As these surveys make clear, LGBTQ+ students face many obstacles, including harassment and discrimination, which impact their ability to learn in a safe and affirming environment," the report related. "Since these surveys were taken, many state legislatures have passed policies that specifically harm LGBTQ+ youth, including bans on transgender students' ability to play sports, curriculum censorship laws, and laws limiting transgender people's ability to access the correct restroom. These laws are likely to further exacerbate the challenges that LGBTQ+ students already face in educational settings."

In the economic realm, the document noted that substantial proportions of LGBTQ+ people have experienced discrimination in the workplace and that some hide their relationships due to fear of discrimination. This persists despite the Supreme Court's 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that anti-LGBTQ+ employment discrimination is illegal. This leads to higher unemployment rates and economic insecurity, including food insecurity, and the problems are particularly pronounced for transgender people.

"As a whole, LGBTQ+ individuals fare worse than non-LGBTQ+ people as they struggle with higher poverty rates and less access to food," the report noted. "Discrimination against LGBTQ+ people impacts the community's ability to access higher paying jobs and economic resources, which in turn impacts individuals' ability to afford food and feed themselves and their families."

The document went on to state that LGBTQ+ people do not have the same access to affordable, affirmative, comprehensive health care as cis and straight people, due to stigma, discrimination, and a dearth of culturally competent providers. This often means they delay care. Again, these problems are exacerbated for trans people and people of color. Additionally, discrimination creates serious mental health issues, including the risk of suicide.

"From accessing health insurance to culturally competent care, LGBTQ+ people face additional barriers than their non-LGBTQ+ peers when it comes to staying healthy," the researchers observed. "Discrimination, stigma, and other factors lead LGBTQ+ people to have worse health outcomes, including mental health outcomes, than their straight and cisgender counterparts. As elected politicians across the country continue to attack the ability of LGBTQ+ people to access care, especially the ability of transgender and nonbinary youth to access gender affirming care, LGBTQ+ people are likely to experience additional hurdles to their physical and mental wellbeing."

In housing, the report found that LGBTQ+ Americans have higher rates of homelessness and more difficulty obtaining affordable housing than straight and cis people. Such disparities can be especially pronounced for LGBTQ+ youth -- some of whom are kicked out of their homes -- and LGBTQ+ people of color, while trans Americans have unique struggles accessing housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this situation.

The document concludes with a summary of actions taken in Congress to better the lives of LGBTQ+ people, such as passing the Respect for Marriage Act and legislation aimed at improving the collection of data on hate crimes. The Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations, and more, has been passed twice by the House but remains stalled in the Senate.

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