Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • The State of LGBT Health in Colorado

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the blog.

    All of us hope and expect to be provided care and treated well by the health care professionals we rely on every day to keep us healthy.  Unfortunately, far too often, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans are denied care or treated discriminatorily simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    Last week, I had the opportunity to host a Conversation on LGBT Health in Denver, Colorado, in partnership with the One Colorado Education Fund.  One Colorado recently completed a comprehensive study to discover and document the state of LGBT health and wellness in Colorado.  The study surveyed nearly 1,300 LGBT Coloradans who shared their personal health care stories and experiences.  

    Marguerite Salazar, HHS Regional Director

    Marguerite Salazar, HHS Regional Director (Region VIII), speaks at “A Conversation on LGBT Health”, January 19, 2012 in Denver, CO (photo courtesy of Jess Woodrum/ONE Colorado). January 19, 2012. (by Jess Woodrum/ONE Colorado)

    One participant stated, “A lot of people might not come out to their doctor because it’s very scary.  You don’t know how people will react.”  Another respondent stated, “You can’t be healthy if you have to hide who you are. Or if you think you have to hide who you are because you don’t know if it’s safe.” 

    According to the study:

    • 21 percent of the LGBT respondents and 53 percent of the transgender community were refused care by doctors or other health workers
    • 27 percent of transgender respondents do not have health insurance
    • 74 percent of respondents reported a lack of or limited health insurance
    • 83 percent of transgender respondents reported healthcare expenses to be a barrier to seeking services

  • A Special Message on National Gay-Straight Alliance Day

    Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken many steps to ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

    Bullying is an epidemic that has gone ignored for too long, and far too many of our young people are targeted and harassed based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  But across the country, Gay-Straight Alliances and other similar student groups are taking important steps to address these issues.

    Last year, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and others welcomed students, parents, and teachers in addition to non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers to the White House for a Conference on Bullying Prevention.  Also last year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a “Dear Colleague” letter to school districts across the country in support of Gay-Straight Alliances.  And today, on the occasion of the first-ever National Gay-Straight Alliance Day, Secretary Duncan has taped a video message to students, teachers, and allies to re-emphasize the Obama Administration’s commitment to safe schools for all students.

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal One Year Later: “Out of Many, We Are One”

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 during a ceremony at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.”  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today.  And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.

     -- President Barack Obama, December 22, 2010.

    One year ago, President Obama signed into law the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, bringing to an end a discriminatory policy that forced patriotic Americans to serve under a cloud of anxiety and isolation and stood in stark contrast to our shared values of unity and equality.

    One year later, gay and lesbian service members can serve the country they love without hiding who they love – and both our military and country are stronger for it. 

    To commemorate the one year anniversary of President Obama signing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, we asked a few former service members to reflect on the long journey toward repeal and what it was like to watch President Obama sign the Repeal Act into law:

    Zoe Dunning

    Until her retirement in 2007, Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning was one of the only openly gay service members in the country, having successfully fought an attempted discharge in 1993.  For many of those years, she served on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as an advocate for the repeal of DADT. 

    Watch Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning's story here.

  • Finding Loving, Supportive, Permanent Homes for All Children

    Last month, I had the privilege of participating in a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) event celebrating the close of National Adoption Month.  HRC was celebrating the child welfare agencies that have taken steps to increase their pool of available resource and adoptive families by reaching out to prospective lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents.

    More than 100,000 children are in foster care waiting for loving, affirming, and supportive families. Trainings like HRC’s All Children-All Families initiative provide child welfare systems with the support and guidance they need to add LGBT-headed families to their pool of prospective permanent homes.  And this work is the right thing to do at the right time.

    I’m proud to be a part of an Administration that believes no child in foster care should be denied a permanent family simply because of the LGBT identity of the adults willing to provide it, or of the child seeking a new home.

    Before I came to Washington, I worked extensively on child welfare issues, and saw first-hand that LGBT youth are frequently underserved.  It was heartbreaking to see the struggles that they went through, to recognize that they were running from their placements much more often than their peers, living on the streets and becoming more vulnerable than they were when they came in the system.  

    And I can honestly say that for the amount of energy we put into getting better at meeting their needs, we probably didn’t make as much progress as we would have wanted.  There were a lot of things that we tried that didn’t work.  But we kept trying.

    One thing that did work was reaching out to more LGBT parents to provide possible homes for these young people, so they could get the kind of support and affirmation that they desperately needed.  And here at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, we’re encouraging state child welfare agencies to look for ways to get better at doing this work.

    In fact, in April of this year, I wrote to state child welfare agencies to encourage them to reach out to LGBT parents as possible placements for children in foster care, and described the ways we can provide help to those who want to get better at reaching those families. In that document, I also talked about another set of supports we have for child welfare agencies who want to get better at providing services to the LGBT youth in their care.

  • Dignity For All: Reactions from LGBT and Human Rights Organizations

    Earlier this week, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton articulated the first-ever U.S. Government strategy to direct all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons.

    These actions represent a continuation of the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety, justice, and equality for LGBT people everywhere. President Obama expressed this commitment earlier this year at the United Nations General Assembly, when he said “No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.” And since January 2009, Secretary Clinton has strongly and consistently championed a comprehensive human rights agenda — one that specifically includes the protection of LGBT people.

    In response to these developments, a number of organizations that advocate for LGBT rights and human rights issued statements praising the strong leadership of the President and Secretary of State.  Here are just a few of those statements:

    Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign

    “The Obama Administration has made a tremendous difference in the lives of LGBT people in the United States and this new strategy helps to extend that presidential leadership across the globe.  There is no question that the administration’s record of advancing equality for LGBT people has been enhanced by the leadership of Secretary Clinton who consistently underscores the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.”

     Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

    “The United States showed extraordinary global leadership today by affirming the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world. It is what we would hope for — and expect from — our country.  The presidential memorandum is the first-ever U.S. government strategy dedicated to combating the abuse of LGBT people abroad. History is being made, but more importantly, lives will be improved and even saved.  We applaud the president for this monumental step forward, and thank Secretary Clinton for taking to the world stage to send the unequivocal message that LGBT people everywhere should be able to live freely and with dignity.”

  • Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights: Reflections on Secretary Clinton’s Remarks

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of State's official blog.

    Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a historic speech in Geneva, Switzerland entitled “Free and Equal in Dignity and Rights.” I was honored to be in the audience with activists, students, and diplomats representing countries throughout the world, when Secretary Clinton invited all people -- those who defend the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and those who have not yet embraced the fact that human rights apply to everyone, government officials and individual activists, and people of all faiths and from every corner of the world -- to come together to address "one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time" -- the challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in their pursuit of equal human rights and protections.

    “We engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding,” said the Secretary, acknowledging that “the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs.” And she called for a conversation about those beliefs, remarking that “understanding of these issues takes more than speech. It does take a conversation. In fact, it takes a constellation of conversations in places big and small. And it takes a willingness to see stark differences in belief as a reason to begin the conversation, not to avoid it.”

  • HUD Addresses Unique Challenges For Aging LGBT Community

    Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's official blog.

    Not having access to equal housing or adequate health and long-term care are some of the issues aging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans face when they approach their golden years. Because LGBT senior citizens are more likely to age without the benefits of a partner or family support, they are unable to find the help they need and sometimes encounter discrimination when it comes to housing and health care.

    To tackle these issues, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights held its first-ever national summit for LGBT elders on Wednesday, December 7, 2011, at HUD’s headquarters.

    The day-long conference brought together advocates and practitioners from across the country to highlight existing barriers for LGBT elders, as well as explore future possibilities for promoting current efforts to support housing and long-term care designed for LGBT elders. Speakers included Assistant Secretaries Raphael Bostic of HUD’s Policy and Research Development, and John Trasviña of HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, as well as a host of other prominent leaders in the LGBT community.

    For more information about the summit, please visit the LGBT Housing Summit website.

  • Meeting with Lady Gaga on Inclusion and Equality for Our Young People

    Lady Gaga is a source of strength for many young people who feel isolated and scared at their schools.  Today, I had the opportunity to welcome her to the White House, where we discussed ways we could work together to make sure that no child comes under attack, regardless of his or her race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other factor.

    One of Lady Gaga’s newest projects is joining together with the MacArthur Foundation and Harvard University to launch the Born This Way Foundation, which will explore ways to help change the culture, the policies, and the curriculum surrounding the safety of our children in school. 

    Lady Gaga has described this cause as a personal one – she has said that as a child, she was often picked on for being different. I am deeply moved by the way she has used her story, and her success, to inspire young people, and shine the spotlight on important issues. 

    I am proud to be part of an Administration that has taken steps to address bullying. In 2010, the Department of Education made it clear to schools that allowing bullying against LGBT students can violate anti-discrimination statutes.  In 2011, the Department reaffirmed students’ rights to form gay-straight alliances and other similar groups.  Earlier this year, President Obama and the First Lady held a White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. And today the Administration released a new analysis of state bullying laws and policies, summarizing the efforts currently in place to prevent bullying in and out of schools.  The report shows that while states have made recent progress in enacting policies and legislation to address bullying, more must be done.