March 1, 2023

The Importance of LGBT Rights

Through history, gay men and women have faced discrimination. Nonetheless, significant progress has been made in this area over time.

Around the world, countries have officially recognized LGBT rights as a fundamental human right. Unfortunately, this progress is not universal; some UN member states still refuse to recognize them.

1. Education

Education is an integral aspect of LGBT rights, offering LGBTQ students the chance to explore their identities and make sense of the world around them. Furthermore, it offers them a chance to learn about significant figures in society such as Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, Michel Foucault and Audre Lord who have made major contributions.

Schools provide children with curricular offerings, physical and mental health resources, library materials, internet access, extracurricular/noncurricular activities, as well as chances to socialize. These offerings should take into account LGBT perspectives and experiences as well as other pertinent matters that affect students.

School policies should also be created to guarantee students do not face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such measures should be implemented by federal, state and local authorities.

Under international law, the United States is obliged to protect LGBT students from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Nevertheless, progress in this area has been uneven.

Though more LGBT youth are attending schools, many still lack protections from discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity. Furthermore, an increasing number of states and school districts are passing anti-LGBTQ laws which restrict these students' rights.

Unfortunately, many schools are failing to protect students from discrimination and bullying, leaving them vulnerable to a range of negative outcomes. These include an increased chance for dropout, poorer academic performance, higher rates of depression, PTSD and substance abuse issues as well as higher absenteeism rates.

Accessing quality education for students can enhance their educational experience and create a safer, more positive school atmosphere. It also boosts their self-esteem and confidence in themselves, leading them down the path of greater success in the future.

2. Employment

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a protected right under federal law. However, this hasn't solved all of the challenges LGBTQ workers face in the workplace - chief among them being their inability to maintain their identity at work.

Employment is crucial as it provides economic security and stability. Unfortunately, LGBTQ individuals often face difficulty finding good jobs or living in households where income falls below the poverty line, leading to serious repercussions for their social and economic circumstances.

Thankfully, many states and local jurisdictions have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These protections represent a major step towards securing equal rights in the workforce.

Thus, many Fortune 500 companies now have policies prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. These nondiscrimination practices are beneficial to businesses: they boost productivity, decrease turnover and boost profits.

Employers that do not already have such policies should consider creating one in order to stay compliant with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, employers should provide employees with detailed information regarding their nondiscrimination practices.

Employers should examine their hiring practices and other internal processes to avoid future legal disputes and demonstrate they are abiding by the law. This will help employers stay ahead of any potential legal troubles that may arise down the line, providing evidence that they are adhering to all relevant regulations.

3. Housing

Housing discrimination is a significant barrier to economic security for LGBTQ individuals, particularly youth. As such, they are more likely to experience poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and health/mental health issues.

Housing is an integral part of life for Americans, but for LGBTQ individuals it can be especially challenging. They're less likely to own their own home than their cisgender counterparts and more at risk of being evicted due to a lack of affordable rental options.

However, it's essential to remember that sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly protected as legal rights under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), HUD can utilize existing discrimination protections in order to provide some justice for those affected by housing discrimination based on their sex or gender identity.

For further information about your legal rights as an LGBTQ person, please consult these resources:

The National Center for Transgender Equality has a brief on the healthcare rights of LGBTQ individuals that outlines how they can protect themselves from discrimination when seeking medical care. Likewise, The National Alliance for LGBT Health provides numerous resources on its website for LGBTQ youth and families, such as a Healthcare Bill of Rights.

In addition to state and federal protections, some cities across America have local nondiscrimination ordinances in place as well. Check our maps tracking local-level nondiscrimination ordinances here to see if you're protected in your vicinity.

If you're facing housing discrimination, seek legal assistance. They may be able to explain your rights and work with the courts for the justice that you deserve.

4. Health Care

Health care is a cornerstone of LGBT rights. All people deserve access to basic healthcare services, but many LGBTQ individuals face major barriers like discrimination by insurers and providers when seeking medical help. Furthermore, CAP survey data reveals that LGBTQ individuals often avoid or postpone seeking medical attention due to this discrimination they endure.

The healthcare system in the United States has failed to meet the needs of LGBTQ individuals, who suffer greater disparities in health and outcomes compared to the general population. These differences are caused by factors such as fragmented services, discrimination from providers and insurance issues.

One way to enhance the quality of healthcare for LGBTQ individuals is by training physicians and other health professionals on specific LGBTQ-specific health needs. Unfortunately, there are currently not enough providers who understand these unique requirements, and many medical schools do not provide sufficient instruction in this area.

Another way to address this problem is by advocating for legislation and government spending that provides fundamental health services to large populations of people. This could include improving access to mental and physical healthcare services, as well as addressing emotional and mental health issues affecting communities.

Despite these efforts, many still face significant barriers to receiving medical care they need. These difficulties have been compounded by the removal of antidiscrimination protections and expansion of religious exemptions from providing services. For instance, President Trump's federal rule proposal would repeal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and enable insurers and providers to deny healthcare services based on these classifications. Although this policy change has yet to take effect, it presents a critical threat for LGBTQ individuals' health and wellbeing.

5. Religion

Religion plays an integral role in many people's lives, shaping how they live. Unfortunately, it can also be used as a tool by some to oppress others - including LGBT individuals - which makes it essential to comprehend how our discourse on religion shapes our perspectives on LGBTQ rights.

When discussing religious matters, it's essential to remember that there are various types of religions and each has its own rules, rituals and beliefs. When discussing these matters with journalists or editors, make sure all religions are represented fairly and equally.

For instance, while many religions believe gay and lesbian individuals to be sinful, they also hold that all people should be treated equally. Unfortunately, this distinction is often missed by media when covering LGBTQ topics.

Although most religions do not have an explicit anti-LGBT doctrine, some do strongly condemn same sex relationships and transgenderism. This is particularly the case among conservative Islamic communities where some Muslim leaders have banned this type of relationship and even interpreted Sharia law to prohibit male homosexuality.

Some conservative Christian churches have even gone so far as to argue that same-sex marriage is unbiblical, leading to laws in the United States which outlaw it and even prevent gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.

These laws do not strike a balance between religion freedom and LGBT equality rights. Instead, they create a legal loophole that permits those who would discriminate based on religion to do so. These laws pose an imminent danger for our LGBT community, so we should work towards their repeal.

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