LGBTQ+ Rights Means more than Marriage Equality

Pride parade

Happy Pride Month! We’ve been celebrating the LGBTQ+ activists who inspire us and reading more books by LGBTQ+ authors. 

With so many people and companies recognizing the LGBTQ+ community, it can feel like the fight for LGBTQ+ rights has been won. And, while there has been major progress over the last few years (marriage equality was passed in 2015!), it is important to remember we are still fighting for LGBTQ+ acceptance. 

In other words, fighting for LGBTQ+ rights means fighting for more than just marriage equality. LGBTQ+ people deserve to feel safe at work, have equal access to housing, receive quality healthcare, and feel accepted in all aspects of their lives. 

Being a Better Ally at Work

In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that you can’t be fired for your sexual orientation or gender identity under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, there are still gaps in legal protections for LGBTQ+ people at work. For instance, the federal law doesn’t apply to businesses with fewer than 15 workers. There are no laws that address bathrooms for trans and gender-nonconforming people. And, it’s still unclear if employers can legally fire LGBTQ+ people for religious reasons. 

Beyond legal protections, the reality is that many LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination in the workplace. A report released this month revealed that 45% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people report experiencing discrimination at work. For trans people, that number is 75%

Being a better ally at work can take many shapes. We can stand up for our colleagues and take accountability when we fall short. Most importantly, we can listen and keep learning how to show up. 

Ending Housing Discrimination

LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender people, face housing insecurity at alarming rates. A 2018 study from the University of Chicago found that among young adults aged 18-25, LGBT people have a 2.2 times greater risk of homelessness than non-LGBT people. Other reports have shown that LGBTQ+ people are less likely to own their homes than straight, cisgender peoples. And, many LGBTQ+ people face discrimination when trying to rent or take out a mortgage. 

On a federal level, housing protection wasn’t extended to LGBTQ+ people until February 2021 — almost a year into the pandemic that left many people jobless and homeless. 

All of this is to remind us that access to affordable housing and the end of homelessness are intrinsically LGBTQ+ issues. In this vein, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community means looking at candidates’ stance on affordable housing, voting on city programs to expand housing programs, removing anti-homeless structures from public places, and more. 

Healthcare is an LGBTQ+ Issue

Oftentimes when we encounter problems, there are more answers than the obvious ones. Universal healthcare may not seem like an obvious answer to combatting discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. However, historically and presently LGBTQ+ people have faced significant barriers to employment and marriage — the two main ways Americans receive healthcare.

Moreover, LGBTQ+ people who do have access to health insurance still face harassment and mistreatment from medical professionals.  Denial or delay of treatment can be a life-or-death difference

For those of us outside of the medical profession, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community might mean fighting for universal healthcare, donating to LGBTQ+ clinics, and more. 

Fighting for Acceptance

Most broadly, we’re fighting for queer acceptance. Oftentimes, showing up for the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t look like what we expect it to. From including transgender kids in sports teams to allowing same-sex dates at prom to including LGBTQ+ stories in our reading, there are so many actions we can take every day to create a more accepting future. Happy Pride!

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