Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • 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.

  • Progress and Persistence in Pursuit of Workplace Equality

    Ed. Note: This piece also appears on the U.S. Department of Labor's official blog.

    Hilda Solis at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Dinner

    Labor Secretary Hilda Solis speaks at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s (NGLCC) annual dinner (photo courtesy of the Department of Labor). November 18, 2011. (by U.S. Department of Labor)

    On Friday, I was proud to attend the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s (NGLCC) annual dinner to talk about this Administration’s commitment to support LGBT entrepreneurs and workers.

    I’ve spent the last two decades fighting for equal opportunity for LGBT Americans, so I was honored to receive the NGLCC’s Extra Mile Award. But as I made clear in my speech, it’s our LGBT job creators who should be thanked and supported.

    It’s hard to overstate the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to our national economy. Across America, an estimated 1.4 million LGBT-owned businesses are making products, delivering vital services, exporting goods and creating jobs. And LGBT purchasing power is expected to top $800 billion this year.

    These numbers demonstrate the LGBT community’s critical role in advancing our economic recovery—and our government’s obligation to promote policies that value their contributions.

  • A Place to Call Home: HUD’s Work to Advance Equality for Transgender Americans

    Yesterday marked a landmark moment for me in my time as Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, when I had the privilege of being the first sitting Cabinet Secretary to speak before the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) Awards Ceremony.

    At the NCTE event, I was proud to represent an Administration that has done remarkable work to advance equality for transgender people. Indeed, whether it’s the record number of transgender appointments President Obama has made to the Federal government, the Office of Personnel Management’s announcement prohibiting gender identity discrimination for federal employment, or passing a hate crimes bill that represents the first-ever federal civil rights legislation to include the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” the Obama Administration has treated the fight for equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community not as an issue, but as a priority.

    And I’m proud to say that HUD, with the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, John Trasvina, has been working towards achieving progress.  At a time when 1 in 5 transgender Americans have been refused a home or apartment, more than 1 in 10 have been evicted, and half of homeless LGBT youth experience homelessness as a result of their gender identity or expression, we have worked to ensure that our housing programs are open to all Americans.  HUD is fighting for transgender equality on several fronts. 

  • Dr. Jill Biden Addresses the 2011 PFLAG National Convention

    Earlier today, Dr. Jill Biden delivered a passionate and powerful address at the Opening Ceremony of the 2011 National Convention of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). 

    She began her remarks with an inspiring story:

    I recently read an open letter written from a PFLAG father to America’s youth.  He wrote, “My wife and I have two sons. We think that they are the best kids in the whole world. They’re very different, with very diverse personalities, talents, and interests. One of the other things that makes them different is that one is straight and one is gay. But the important thing is this: we love them equally.”

    At its core – it’s such a simple message – “we love our sons” – both of them. But that acceptance and support can make all the difference.

    And as you all know well – acceptance by those you love is the greatest acceptance of all. 

  • Preventing Bullying and Empowering Our Communities

    Bullying Prevention Summit in New York City - 2

    Panelists listen to a speaker at the Bullying Prevention Summit, organized by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and held in New York City on October 30, 2011. October 30, 2011. (by Akil Vohra, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders)

    Like too many of the participants in Saturday’s Bullying Prevention Summit in New York City, I experienced bullying and harassment in school.  I remember vividly a classmate’s repeated threats over a semester to “beat me up” and the sense of paralysis it created for me.  What remains less clear is why.  Did this classmate single me out because I was one of only a handful of Asian Americans in my school?  Or was it because he had sensed some difference about my sexual orientation, even if I had not come out at the time?
     
    Saturday’s Bullying Prevention Summit, put on by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, created a space to explore this important issue and shine a spotlight on bullying and harassment in this country, in particular directed at AAPI and Muslim American communities.  According to newly released statistics, Asian Americans reported the highest rate of bullying in classrooms, nearly 20% higher than any other racial or ethnic group.  For bullying outside on school grounds, the rate was 10% higher for Asian Americans than for other racial groups.

    For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, we know the statistics are just as appalling.  More than 8 in 10 LGBT students participating in a survey conducted by the Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reported verbal harassment based on their sexual orientation, and 4 in 10 reported physical harassment.  Nearly 64% of LGBT students reported verbal harassment based on their gender expression.

  • Why We Need the American Jobs Act

    President Obama on the American Jobs Act at Fire Station No. 9 in Virginia

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the American Jobs Act at Fire Station No. 9 in North Chesterfield, Virginia during the American Jobs Act bus tour, Oct. 19, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Last week, President Obama took a bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia to talk directly to the American people about jobs, the economy, and the importance of the American Jobs Act.

    After attending the President’s speech at Langley Air Force Base, Stacie Walls-Beegle sent us a note about her experience running ACCESS AIDS Care, a non-profit organization in Hampton, Virginia that provides services to people living with HIV/AIDS as well as a safe space for the local LGBT community:

    “For the last ten years, I have run ACCESS AIDS Care, a non-profit organization that serves the Eastern region of Virginia, including Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Newport News, and adjoining areas.  Our small organization employs 45 individuals and serves more than 500 people a year living with HIV/AIDS.  This year we opened the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads, the first of its kind in this region.

    On a daily basis, me and my staff work diligently to keep our doors open to serve individuals and families who are already living below the federal poverty line.  Many of them are also employed in minimum wage jobs and are uninsured.”

    We also heard from Jay Squires, President of the Gay Community Center of Richmond, following the President’s speech in Chesterfield, Virginia:

    “America’s LGBT community centers serve 40,000 people each week.  725,000 people are affiliated with 200 centers nationwide.  The centers, often volunteer-run and lightly funded, do critical work to address issues of poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, health care, and discrimination, seven days a week, and one person at a time. 

    These are the issues that impact our people’s lives daily.  Smaller centers do their work with the support of individuals who donate what they can to support the work that needs to be done.  Tens of thousands of times each week, we make a difference.  The community center movement is a great example of the American spirit – people coming together because they need to, to care for their own.”

    Community centers, health clinics, and local non-profits across the country provide critical services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people – many of whom are especially vulnerable in a tough economy.  Passing the American Jobs Act will help put people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.

    The American Jobs Act will provide tax relief for workers and businesses, put teachers, police officers and firefighters back on the job, and invest in rebuilding our infrastructure and modernizing our schools. It also focuses on providing pathways back to work for the long-term unemployed – providing incentives for employers to hire, expanding efforts for youth employment and subsidized jobs, and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of unemployed status.     

    Learn more about the American Jobs Act, and take a look at front pages from the American Jobs Act Bus Tour.

    Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.