Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • Observing National Day of Silence

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Education Blog

    Today GLSEN hosts its national Day of Silence—a day where students throughout the country take a vow of silence to call attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. I want to encourage all of us NOT to be silent on an important issue: the need to address and eliminate bullying and harassment in our schools.

    No student should ever feel unsafe in school. If students don’t feel safe, they can’t learn. And if left unaddressed, bullying and harassment can rapidly escalate into even more serious abuse.

    I want to remind students, parents, and administrators of the power of supportive clubs, like the Gay Straight Alliances or GSAs, to foster safe school environments. The Department of Education has provided guidance to schools on their obligations under federal laws to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs, including GSAs, as well to address bullying and harassment and gender-based violence.

    Let’s work together to end bullying and harassment in schools.

    Please visit StopBullying.gov and find additional resources from the Department of Education below–including school obligations under federal law:

    Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education

  • On the Road in Boyle Heights, CA: Working Toward a Healthy LGBTQ Community

    Over the last four years, we have seen tremendous, historic change take place across the federal government, from signing into law federal protections for LGBT victims of hate crimes, to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” to implementing new policies and programs to address the health and safety of LGBT individuals. And at the same time, local communities across the country are taking action to address the inequalities and disparities faced by LGBT people.

    Gautam Raghavan Speaks at LGBTQ forum April 2013

    (Photo courtesy of Latino Equality Alliance)

    I recently had the opportunity to travel to one of these communities to see this progress in person. Earlier this month, I visited Boyle Heights, California – a neighborhood in East Los Angeles – for an LGBTQ Forum hosted by the Latino Equality Alliance in collaboration with The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative. The event brought together service providers, families, advocates, and individuals from the nearby communities for a resource fair, plenaries, and workshop sessions.

    Some of the key issues that were raised throughout the day included family acceptance, access to affordable health care and housing, and increased opportunities for local service providers. In addition, many of the participants I met were particularly interested in President Obama’s call for commonsense immigration reform that will keep our families together and allow DREAMers a pathway to citizenship.

    It was truly inspiring to see such a coalition of diverse local organizations unite in common purpose at the Boyle Heights LGBTQ Forum. Events such as these are a shining example of how communities across America can come together to seek solutions to the unique issues facing our youth and families.

  • Announcing Harvey Milk Champions of Change

    In August 2009, President Obama honored Harvey Milk posthumously with America’s highest civilian medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with the following citation:

    Harvey Bernard Milk dedicated his life to shattering boundaries and challenging assumptions. As one of the first openly gay elected officials in this country, he changed the landscape of opportunity for the nation's gay community. Throughout his life, he fought discrimination with visionary courage and conviction. Before his tragic death in 1978, he wisely noted, "Hope will never be silent," and called upon Americans to stay true to the guiding principles of equality and justice for all. Harvey Milk's voice will forever echo in the hearts of all those who carry forward his timeless message.

    To honor Harvey Milk’s legacy, the White House will recognize a group of outstanding openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) state and local elected and appointed officials as “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”  Established in 2011, the White House Champions of Change Program regularly spotlights ordinary citizens who are doing extraordinary things for to their community, their country, and their fellow citizens.  In that tradition, we will honor as Harvey Milk Champions of Change a small group of LGBT state and local elected and appointed officials who have demonstrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service.

    If that sounds like you or someone you know, then we want to hear from you!

    Members of the public are invited to nominate candidates for consideration.  Nominees should be LGBT individuals who have been elected or appointed to state or local office, and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service.  Please keep in mind that, in the spirit of the Champions of Change program, we are looking for unsung heroes – individuals whose contributions have gone unrecognized.

    Click here to nominate a Harvey Milk Champion of Change before Friday, April 19, 2013 (Note: Under “Theme of Service” please choose “Harvey Milk Champions of Change”). 

    If you have any questions or concerns, please contact LGBT@who.eop.gov.  For the latest news on efforts by the Obama Administration on behalf of the LGBT community, please sign up for updates.

  • LGBT Families at the 2013 White House Easter Egg Roll

    Earlier this week, thousands of families gathered for the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll.  Among them were LGBT families from across the country.  Here’s what some of them had to say:

    “What an incredible experience for our family to visit the home of the First Family and to take part in this great American tradition. It was so exciting to look around and see the diversity of American families represented. It’s a day that our kids will never forget.”

    “It was amazing and awe-inspiring to be surrounded by so many amazing families of all colors and all types – all different – but united by the belief that all families deserve equality.”

    "Being out, open, and proud on the lawn of the White House was a moment we will never forget.”

    “The experience of attending The White House Easter Egg Roll was a once in a lifetime opportunity for our grandson.  We will have lifelong conversations about America being open to all types of FAMILIES!”

    “My partner and I were honored bring our sons to The White House to take part in an iconic American family tradition.  It is a memory we will always treasure.  President Obama is a true inspiration to our boys and they were so excited have been invited to his house for this event… Needless to say, the kids had an absolute blast!  We loved seeing how much fun they had rolling eggs and playing games down the lawn.  Thank you to the Obama Administration for welcoming all families.”

    “Standing on The White House lawn to celebrate with the First Family and other families of all shapes and sizes from across the nation - two dads, two moms, a mom and a dad, one mom - helped prove the point that kids are kids, no different from each other in their quest for candy and a good time.”

    “Said the girls, ‘Best. Day. Ever!’ Their happy dads agree.”

    Check out a photo gallery of LGBT parents and their kids at the Egg Roll:

    • AMPA White House Easter Egg Roll
      1 of 21
    • Bailey Klugh Easter Egg Roll
      2 of 21
    • Blau Family at Easter Egg Roll
      3 of 21
    • Superman: Blau Family Easter Egg Roll
      4 of 21
    • Bramble Family Easter Egg Roll
      5 of 21
    • White House: Bramble Family
      6 of 21
    • Charlie Morgan Easter Egg Roll
      7 of 21
    • Family Fun: Easter Egg Roll
      8 of 21
    • Katrina Easter Egg Roll
      9 of 21
    • Latz Easter Egg Roll
      10 of 21
    • Melchert Easter Egg Roll
      11 of 21
    • Eating Apples: Melchert Easter Egg Roll
      12 of 21
    • Whole Family: Melchert Easter Egg Roll
      13 of 21
    • Cartoon: Moriel Easter Egg Roll
      14 of 21
    • Soccer Player: Moriel Easter Egg Roll
      15 of 21
    • Military Family: Easter Egg Roll
      16 of 21
    • Sherr Easter Egg Roll
      17 of 21
    • The Boys: Sherr Easter Egg Roll
      18 of 21
    • Easter Egg Roll
      19 of 21
    • Kat and Elly Easter Egg Roll
      20 of 21
    • White House Easter Egg Roll 2013
      21 of 21

     

  • Ensuring Safe Schools for LGBT Youth

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the US Department of Education Blog

    Ensuring Safe Schools for LGBT Youth

    Photo Credit: US Department of Education

    This past weekend in San Diego, I had the opportunity to participate in the 4th Annual National Educator Conference focused on creating safe, supportive, and inclusive schools for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. A goal of the conference, presented by the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership (CESCaL), was to bring together education leaders and LGBT experts to empower and provide educators and school personnel with the knowledge and skills necessary to create safe, welcoming and inclusive school environments for all youth, regardless of their sexual orientation.

    Additionally, the conference focused on providing educators with the tools and resources to prevent and respond to bullying of LGBT youth, as well as empowering them to make the changes in their schools to make sure all kids are safe and thriving. I met with so many amazing educators; it truly was empowering.

     Safe schools are not only free from overt forms of physical violence or substance abuse, but work proactively to support, engage, and include all students. Unfortunately, too many schools are not safe for LGBT youth. According to GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, nearly 8 out of 10 LGBT youth were harassed at school. We know that students who are bullied are more likely to have depression, anxiety, and other health concerns, as well as decreased academic achievement and participation. When students don’t feel safe, they are less likely to learn and more likely to give up on school altogether. Unfortunately, we also know that LGBT youth are disproportionately subject to discipline practices that exclude them from the classroom, and make up close to 15% of youth in the juvenile justice system.

    Given these statistics, it’s not surprising that LGBT youth are at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. We need to ensure that educators have the tools and resources to not only protect LGBT students from harassment and discrimination, but to ensure that they thrive in schools, not drop out!

  • Addressing HIV in the Black Community

    Ed. note: This was cross-posted from The Root.

    Yesterday, on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I had the pleasure of meeting with leaders who are doing outstanding work to prevent new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for African-Americans.  We shared stories and discussed the importance of engaging everyone in these efforts, including faith leaders, educators, athletes, entertainers, artists, scientists, healthcare providers as well as friends, families, and neighbors.

    This approach also reflects the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which calls for a collective response to the ongoing domestic epidemic, and sets specific goals with regard to addressing HIV-related disparities among African-Americans. 

    Our conversation was both sobering and inspiring. Sobering because of the challenges that remain in addressing the epidemic, including confronting the myths about HIV transmission and the virus itself. Inspiring because during our dialogue it became clear that these leaders are committed to breaking down barriers that impede our progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS.

    Data highlight the urgency of this work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS and nearly 50,000 people become infected with HIV each year.  In 2010, African-Americans accounted for only 14% of the U.S. population, but 44% of new HIV infections. The majority (70%) of new HIV infections among African-Americans occur among black men, and are concentrated among gay men. In fact, young black gay and bisexual men who are the only group in the black community where new HIV infections are increasing.  Black women represent 30% of new infections among African-Americans. Transgender black women are also at risk for HIV with as many as one in three in some studies diagnosed with HIV. And only 21% of black Americans have a suppressed viral load, the key health marker for HIV treatment. 

  • LGBT Advocates Welcome President Obama’s Proposal for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

    Earlier this week, President Barack Obama delivered remarks in Las Vegas about creating a fair and effective immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants."I’m here because most Americans agree that it’s time to fix a system that’s been broken for way too long." President Obama said. "I’m here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement, and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity. Now is the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy and strengthen our country’s future."

    President Obama's proposal for immigration reform has four parts. First, continue to strengthen our borders. Second, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers. Third, hold undocumented immigrants accountable before they can earn their citizenship; this means requiring undocumented workers to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and pass background checks. Fourth, streamline the legal immigration system for families, workers, and employers.

    In response to the President’s proposal, a number of organizations that advocate for LGBT rights issued statements praising the President’s leadership and calling for comprehensive immigration reform.  Here are some of their words:

    Rachel Tiven, Executive Director of Immigration Equality

    “LGBT families are elated to have the President’s support for an immigration reform bill that includes our families.  When the President leads, Congress and the American people join him to stand for equality. From the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to marriage equality, the President’s leadership has been effective, and critical, in winning real change for real families. As Congress moves forward in crafting legislation to fix our broken immigration system, we look forward to working with the President and our allies on Capitol Hill to pass a bill that ends the discrimination LGBT families face, provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people – gay and straight – and quickly integrates young people whose dream is to be fully, legally American.”

    Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign

    “President Obama continues to demonstrate his tremendous leadership on behalf of our community by recognizing that fixing our nation’s flawed immigration system must include relief for these loving, committed couples and their families.  In addition, by establishing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including children brought into this country by their parents, the President’s plan will help millions of individuals at our nation’s margins.”

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

    “President Obama today put forth a vision of immigration reform that is inclusive. Today, there are 11 million undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are forced to live in the shadows of society. Creating a clear pathway to citizenship will ensure better and brighter futures not just for them, but for our entire country. America wouldn’t be what it is today without the grit, guts, ingenuity, creativity and work ethic of millions of immigrants who have come to this country with a dream. These dreams built and have sustained America — from science and industry, to agriculture and domestic work, to commerce and innovation. The American dream dies when the dreamers are shut out.”

    Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of Family Equality Council

    “Immigration is fundamentally a family issue.  The President has demonstrated time and again that he has the best interest of families with LGBT parents at heart, and our inclusion in his plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform further demonstrates his commitment to us. We will stand with him every step of the way to make sure we are protecting families with parents who are immigrants, and we look forward to working with the White House and Congress to get this done. ”

    Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights

    "It is clear that after long suffering we may finally see true progress on meaningful immigration reform. In a historic speech today, President Obama made clear that he supports an accessible and straightforward path to citizenship, recognition of ALL families and a process for keeping those families together, including same-sex couples and families headed by LGBT parents, and citizenship for DREAMers. This is what we must see. As the process continues, we are committed to assuring that reforms truly provide the dignity, recognition, and fairness the President suggested. We need a plan animated by humanity, not punishment."

    Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell, Co-Founders of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

    “On behalf of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we congratulate President Barack Obama on his proposed plan to reform immigration policy, which includes provisions for both business owners and for LGBT bi-national couples.  The NGLCC understands that the United States is a nation of entrepreneurs, and the health and strength of our economy depends on opening greenfield opportunities for innovators looking to start and sustain businesses within our borders. We call on Congress to work with President Obama and move forward meaningful reform to establish an efficient path to citizenship for all people, including LGBT bi-national families.”

    Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal

    “We are pleased that the experiences of LGBT families are being addressed by the President's plan for comprehensive immigration reform, presented today. The plan includes critically important protections needed by millions of hardworking Americans. Those who dismiss the needs of LGBT families and suggest that we can only protect some people but not all are not being true to deeply held American values of fairness.”

  • 2012 Highlights

    As we kick off 2013, we want to take a few moments to reflect upon the last year of progress towards dignity, justice, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

    December 13: US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad
    Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council, describes the Obama Administration’s commitment to human rights and human dignity for LGBT people abroad.

    November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
    The White House marks Transgender Day of Remembrance by meeting with a small group of community advocates.

    October 19: Going Purple for Spirit Day
    The White House honors Spirit Day to support young people who have been victims of bullying.

    Dr Biden/VPOTUS Young LGBT Leaders

    September 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden speak at a reception with emerging young leaders of the LGBT community at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann))

    September 21: Celebrating the Next Generation of LGBT Leaders
    The Vice President and Dr. Biden welcome young LGBT leaders from around the country – students and community organizers, advocates and artists, and veterans – to a reception at the Vice President’s Residence.

    September 20: Marking One Year Since the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
    Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, meets with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses, to celebrate the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    July 26: Dr. Jill Biden Views the AIDS Memorial Quilt
    Dr. Jill Biden views some panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt during the week of the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

    July 18: The White House Celebrates LGBT Champions of Change
    The White House honors six ordinary Americans as LGBT Champions of Change because of their extraordinary work across the country to ensure safety, dignity, and equality for the LGBT community.

     
    DOD's LGBT Pride Month Event

    June 26, 2012. (by Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, far right, speaks during a panel at DoD’s LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon, June 26, 2012. (Photo courtesy of DoD, by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley))

    June 28: Defense Department Hosts First Ever LGBT Pride Month Event
    The Department of Defense holds its first-ever LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon, commending the service and sacrifice of gay and lesbian servicemembers and LGBT civilian personnel.

    June 19: The Obama Administration Honors LGBT Pride Month
    Throughout the month of June, the Obama Administration honors LGBT Pride Month with video messages, statements by senior officials, events, and even a Presidential Proclamation.

    Robin Roberts and POTUS Interview

    May 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))

    May 10: President Obama Supports Same-Sex Marriage
    During an interview with ABC News, the President expresses his personal support for marriage equality.

    May 10: Reactions to President Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality
    Following the President’s statement in support of marriage equality, individuals and organizations across the country – including labor unions, environmental groups, social justice and civil rights advocates, and organizations advocating for equal rights for LGBT people – express their support for the President.

    April 20: Ending Bullying in Our Schools & Communities
    Valerie Jarrett describes the White House screening of the movie BULLY, describes the Obama Administration’s efforts to address and prevent bullying, and announces the President’s endorsement of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA).

    April 11: LGBT Families at the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll
    The White House welcomes thousands of families for the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll – including LGBT families from as far away as Utah and as nearby as Maryland.

    Valerie Jarrett at Legal Defense Network

    March 3, 2012. (by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett delivers keynote remarks at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network 20th National Dinner in Washington, D.C., Saturday, March 3, 2012 (Photo by Chris Burch/SLDN).)

     March 4: Celebrating Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at the SLDN National Dinner

    Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett delivers keynote remarks before over 1,000 gay and lesbian service members, veterans, and military families at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network national dinner in Washington, D.C.

    February 23: On the Road in Philadelphia: Focus on LGBT Health
    The White House Office of Public Engagement kicks off the White House LGBT Conference series with a day-long conference on LGBT Health in Philadelphia, PA, featuring keynote remarks by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

    February 6: On the Road in Peoria: Combating Hate, One Community at a Time
    The Department of Justice continues to enforce and implement the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    January 30: Ending Housing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans
    At the 24th national Gay and Lesbian Task Force “Creating Change” Conference, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan announces the publication of a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.

    January 25: A Special Message on National Gay-Straight Alliance Day
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan records a video message to students across the country in honor of the first-ever National Gay Straight Alliance Day.

    POTUS at LGBT Pride Month Reception

    June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the LGBT Pride Month Reception in the East Room of the White House, June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy))

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