Thursday, March 31, 2011
Despite the fact that independent researchers have conducted their own studies, since Stonewall and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the IOM admits that researchers still have a great deal to learn, and that researchers face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations. The main challenge is that most government health surveys do not collect demographic information on an individual’s sexual orientation and gender indenity, which leads to limited data collection on LGBT populations. Therefore, understanding the the very unique health concerns for LGBT individuals is paramount to providing adequate health prevention and treatment for our loved ones.
The Institute of Medicine Committee on LGBT Issues and Research Gaps and Opportunities is chaired by family medicine professor Robert Graham of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He's joined by colleagues from John Hopkins University, Harvard, the University of Virginia, the University of Chicago and many other esteemed colleges and universities. The Committee’s key recommendation from the study states once again, “to advance understanding of the health needs of all LGBT individuals, researchers need more data about the demographics of these populations, improved methods for collecting and analyzing data, and an increased participation of [LGBT individuals] in research.”
This study will enable PFLAG National’s policy team to continue advocating for improved data collection methods, non-discrimination policies in the healthcare setting along with cultural competency trainings for medical providers to deliver the sensitive and appropriate care our LGBT loved ones deserve.
Learn more about PFLAG National’s work on addressing and overcoming specific LGBT health disparities.
Also, please be sure to check out our Straight for Equality in Healthcare Guide to learn ways healthcare providers can serve as allies to LGBT patients.
As many of us know, job discrimination remains a significant problem for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families, which is why ENDA is desperately needed. With so much of our government’s focus on the economy and creating jobs, each job that is lost due to prejudice compounds the unemployment challenges not just for the LGBT community, but for our nation’s economy as a whole.
ENDA’s reintroduction presents an important opportunity to continue education efforts within the halls of Congress to make clear why this bill is such a critical piece of legislation for many of our loved ones. With over 100 new members in this Congress, we must continue our efforts to enlighten and inform these new representatives about LGBT lives and workplace discrimination. While our work in Congress may seem daunting, we will continue investing our time and energy in Washington -- and in our home districts -- to ensure that every new member understands the importance of this critical jobs bill. Clearly, our hard work will help build a much stronger coalition of allies who can eventually make ENDA a reality.
In the days leading up to ENDA’s reintroduction, we urge you to reach out to your Representatives and ask them to support and consider serving as an original co-sponsor for ENDA. To locate your U.S. House Representative, please visit our action alert center by clicking here and type in your zip code, or consider calling the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Once you’re connected with your Representative, remind them that nearly 90% of Americans favor equal employment rights for LGBT citizens, and that President Obama has expressed his readiness to sign ENDA, therefore we need Congress to catch up with public opinion and give the President the opportunity to sign this bill.
Only with your help can we ensure that all LGBT employees have the critical job protections that will ensure a fair and equitable work environment.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Arkansas House has given final passage to a bill that would require school districts to enact anti-bullying policies. The bill includes all forms of cyber-bullying through social media and, most important to PFLAGers, includes gender identity and sexual orientation in its list of attributes. The full list reads:
"...an actual or perceived personal characteristic including without limitation race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, socioeconomic status, academic status, disability, gender, gender identity, physical appearance, health condition, or sexual orientation."
The bill passed the Senate 34-0 and it cleared the House Monday on a 68-18 vote.
Read the full content of the bill here.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Programs that block all LGBT content violate First Amendment rights to free speech, as well as the Equal Access Act, which requires equal access to school resources for all extracurricular clubs. This means that gay-straight alliances (GSAs) and LGBT support groups must have the same access to national organizational websites as other groups such as the Key Club and the chess club. Some schools have also improperly configured their web filters to block news items related to LGBT issues and deny access to support groups, like PFLAG, that could be vital for troubled LGBT young people and their families who either don’t have access to the Internet at home, or do not feel safe accessing such information on their home computers.
Some schools have improperly configured their web filters to block access to websites for LGBT rights organizations such as the Gay-Straight Alliance Network, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and websites pertaining to the National Day of Silence to protest anti-LGBT bullying. However, the filters sometimes allow access to sites that condemn homosexuality or urge LGBT people to try to change their sexual orientation, such as People Can Change.
The following video demonstrates how students can test whether or not their school is illegally filtering content, and provides instructions for reporting censorship can be seen here. Additionally, students who want to report unconstitutional web filtering at their schools can fill out a form here.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Here in Colorado the tension is building around LGBT equality for same sex unions.
This week the Colorado Senate passed SB 172/Civil Unions with bi-partisan support (23–12). Three Republicans joined all 20 Democrats voting for the bill. This initial victory is a sign of change since 2006 when we in PFLAG worked really hard with LGBT groups to pass a civil unions referendum, which was narrowly defeated by conservative forces that pushed through a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. That was a bitter defeat. But as Evan Wolfson, national spokesperson for marriage equality says: "When we lose, lose forward!" Like the phoenix, we are trying again with the civil unions bill. This time around with growing change toward attitudes of greater acceptance of same-sex unions, we have more hope for bipartisan support.
The next hurdle is to pass SB172 through the Colorado House which has a slight Republican majority.
One of the major talking points being used by those calling in to the Colorado legislature in support of the bill is regarding economic benefits to the state. One Colorado, the state-wide organizing effort for LGBT issues, released the following late last week:
A new Williams Institute study at UCLA School of Law shows that allowing same-sex and different-sex couples to enter civil unions in Colorado would boost the state budget by nearly $5 million over three years. The increase in state funds results from savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs, state license fees, and sales tax revenues. The study predicts that Colorado’s same-sex couples would spend nearly $19 million on civil union ceremonies. Out of state guests would generate an additional $6 million in spending.
Shari Wilkins, chair of the PFLAG Denver chapter board, writes from the heart on this bill:
Three years ago my partner and I were arrested as we attempted to apply for a marriage license in the City and County of Denver, Colorado. Along with three gay men and one lesbian we were booked and escorted to jail. We spent four days in a court trial, defending both our right to protest in a public place and to have equal access to the laws which seem to apply to everyone else in our State.
Deborah and I have been together for 26 years. I have taught the children of those who would deny me the right to protections afforded heterosexual couples. who have been together for less time. I am a Denver native and have paid the same taxes to fund the Denver County Clerk and Recorder services as my straight cousins, aunts and uncles. Both Deborah and I give to the community with both love, compassion, time and dollars.
It is time to stop the hateful rhetoric about the harm that gay marriage or civil unions will do to this country. This is not a biblical issue, it is a human equality issue. We make application for marriage licenses in the County Clerk and Recorder's Office, not in the office of the local church. This is not about GLBT citizens destorying an institution, but about couples doing the loving and hard work of creating families and relationships based on respect, a belief in the future and most of all loving another human being. How can that be wrong?
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I just heard the great news that a Civil Unions bill may be passed in the Colorado Senate soon. My son and his partner of over seven years live in Denver. They had a commitment ceremony in 2006 and are indeed married in every sense of the word except for the legal and state/federal benefits parts. They have accepted all of the responsibilities of marriage (including taking the preliminary steps to become parents) so they should get the benefits as well. I hope that the Colorado House will give this bill a fair hearing when it is time for them to vote on it as well.
I only wish my own home state of Wisconsin would move similarly. Here, congress has taken the opposite position in the form of an odious anti-marriage equality amendment. It was passed five years ago and shows no signs of reversing such antiquated thinking.
I want better for my kids...Thank you Colorado, you're on the right path here!
Kay's son, Greg Wertsch, sent us the following:
My partner and I have been together for over 10 years and we do not have the same protections that are afforded to other married couples such as shared health insurance, hospital visitation, and other critical details that married couples take for granted. We have grown accustomed to being second class citizens in our society and have grown to accept the fact that two drunk straight people - who marry each other in Vegas on a whim - are given 1,000s more rights and protections than Mark and I will ever have.
What I can not grow accustomed to is the fact that should Mark and I choose to adopt a child, our child will not be afforded the same protections as children in married households. We are seriously considering fostering to adopt a child here in Colorado - and I find it wrong and morally corrupt that our potential child could be also be treated as a second class citizen in our society. Something has to change - if not for us, at least for the children who have two moms or two dads. Like it or not, thousands and thousands of gay and lesbian couples are raising children and - because of our laws - these children are put at more risk than. If our politicians care about family, they should protect them.
The senate may have a fight on its hands, as reporter here.
Here's hoping Colorado's congress passes this important piece of legislation!
The bill, introduced in February, would require that all schools in Oklahoma adopt an anti-bullying policy.
With the leadership of Nancy McDonald (Tulsa) and Kay Holladay (Norman), PFLAG chapters in Oklahoma have been able to successfully work with school districts in their respective communities. This legislation will open the door for other PFLAG chapters to approach other school districts in the state.
Read local new coverage here:
News on 6/Oklahoma
And follow us on Twitter (@PFLAG) for updates from PFLAG National Associate Director of Policy, Rhodes Perry, who is in Oklahoma today for the historic event!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Welcome PFLAG National President David M. Horowitz, today's guest blogger:
Winchester, Virginia, is a small and beautiful area near Washington, DC. There a PFLAG chapter works to make a difference in the struggle for LGBT equality.
I had the pleasure of visiting the weekend of March 19-21.An overflow crowd gathered for services at the Unitarian Universlist Chuch of the Shenandoah Valley to appreciate the work of PFLAG.Many stayed for a potluck lunch and to continue the conversation.My meeting with membera of PFLAG Winchester was, for me, the highlight of my visit, as we strategized over how together we can - local chapter and national - continue to provide support, education, and advocacy for our LGBT members, families, and friends.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the Director of Operations for PFLAG National. I’m the techie on the leadership team there, wielding spreadsheets and routers to do my part to move equality forward, but I'm also a passionate cyclist in (nearly all) of my spare time.
As a PFLAGer and a cyclist, I'm pleased to announce that this year, I will be riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle as the official representative of PFLAG National, proudly wearing the heart and triangle for 545 miles in June to support the amazing prevention and education work done by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.
The center is one of many amazing local organizations working to fight HIV/AIDS and each year, they host the AIDS Life/Cycle education, awareness and fundraising bike ride. The ride is seven days long and goes 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles along the coast of California.
Jody Huckaby, my boss and PFLAG National's executive director, understands the power of the local organzations as both the former executive director of New Mexico AIDS Services and former member of the board of directors of AIDS Action here in DC. Jody has already personally shown his support for Team PFLAG, and I hope each of you can contribute to PFLAG National's effort to support the LA Gay and Lesbian Center through AIDS Life/Cycle!
I need to raise at least $3,000 to represent PFLAG, so that's where I need your help. You can donate to Team PFLAG online through the AIDS/LifeCycle page here and you can also follow my training progress on twitter.
I'd also love to hear from any PFLAG members and supporters, who are participating in the ride. Leave a comment if you'll be there in June!
P.S. Don't forget, I can’t make it from San Francisco to Los Angeles without your support! Donations to support the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center can be made through the ALC website at www.tofighthiv.org/goto/david.manuel
On Monday, March 14th the Indianapolis GLBT community and straight allies gathered at the Indiana Statehouse to oppose HJR-6 (the Marriage Discrimination Amendment). This bill would enshrine discrimination into the State Constitution by saying: "Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana."
As if this isn't bad enough, the second sentence reads: "A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized." This second sentence means that civil unions or domestic partnerships would also not be allowed, which not only would impact GLBT couples but unmarried heterosexual couples as well. This sentence is vague at best, and I don't think anyone knows what the ramifications of this would really be.
I feel very strongly about HJR-6 and what it would do to GLBT Hoosiers. So I asked the people at Indiana Equality and Rally for Equality, who coordinated the rally, if I could volunteer to work with them and help put this event together. They agreed and my job was to reach out to different groups and organizations to inform them about the rally. And when the organizers began putting their list of speakers together, I asked them if a PFLAG parent could speak. Of course they said yes, and I volunteered to represent PFLAG as a speaker.
As I wrote my speech, I decided that I did not want to talk about marriage. I wanted to reach out to the parents in the audience and let them know that our kids are no different from theirs. I wanted them to know that we have the same goals and desires for our children as they do for theirs. When I finished writing my speech, I read it aloud to practice. As I read it, I became overwhelmed and began to cry. I hoped this would not happen the day of the rally. I also worried that I would be terribly nervous and freeze up, but I tried to put that out of my head.
The Rally for Equality was scheduled to begin at noon. Despite the cold weather, a crowd of about 500 was in attendance. I arrived with another PFLAG mom and noticed that there were not that many people there yet. But eventually people began arriving and pretty soon the area on the south side of the Statehouse was packed. There were also quite a few PFLAG moms there, some with their children. Yesterday Rally for Equality organized a sign-making party, so there were many wonderful signs in the audience. And to my surprise, there were no protesters.
A little after noon, Patrick Roth, the emcee of the event, introduced himself, his husband and their two daughters. He also introduced the chant of the day "Nix to Six" - he got the crowd chanting and they became quite energized! He then introduced the speakers. I was standing on the steps, waiting for my turn to speak. I am very angry about this proposed bill and what the legislators are trying to do, and this helped keep me from being nervous. I really wanted to get my message across to the crowd.
Finally it was my turn to speak. As I read from my notes, I felt the energy and approval of the crowd. It was a wonderful experience to be able to tell everyone what PFLAG does and that we will fight for our children’s rights. I felt proud to be able to represent Indianapolis PFLAG at the rally.
Now I'd like to share my speech with you. I do hope it made an impact today.
My name is Annette Gross and I’m a PFLAG mom. PFLAG stand for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. We are part of a national organization and we offer support and education to parents and families of GLBT children. We also engage in advocacy to ensure that our GLBT children are treated with fairness and respect. I joined PFLAG eleven years ago because I have a gay son. I met other parents who were just like me, and eventually I got involved in advocacy. That’s why I am here today.
I want to tell you that the Marriage Discrimination Amendment is about more than gay marriage. It will strip away important rights for unmarried couples and their families that will leave them vulnerable to future discrimination without any legal remedy. Their future access to benefits that we all take for granted will be compromised, including health benefits and other legal protections for them and their families.
The possibility of the passage of HJR-6 makes us PFLAG parents very angry. We feel that this amendment is a direct attack on our children and we will not stand for it! The legislators who propose this bill are targeting one group of people and treating them as second-class citizens. In Indiana, it is legal to discriminate against GLBT people. GLBT children are bullied every day and have a high rate of suicide. I’ve met many young people whose parents have thrown them out because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. If this bill is passed, it will prove to young GLBT Hoosiers that their state doesn’t really care about them. It will encourage more bullying and more negative health outcomes for our children.
Our job as parents is to protect our children. Who among us doesn’t want the best for their children? Who doesn’t want to see their child happy and secure? This bill will threaten the health and well-being of our kids. As parents and grandparents, I hope you will have compassion and realize that our children are the same as yours. They want to build a life, raise a family and be able to earn a good living, just like your children do. I hope you understand that this bill is hurtful and discriminatory; it will do nothing but cause pain to our families. Stand with us today and let the legislators who voted for HJR-6 know that you do not agree with them. Talk to your friends and families and educate them. And let me tell you – as PFLAG parents we will do everything in our power to protect our GLBT children and fight this malicious bill.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
PFLAG National applauds the introduction of this historic legislation to repeal DOMA. As we continue to educate and advocate on behalf of our LGBT family and friends, we are proud to highlight the power of our work by sharing new polling data that finds 51 percent of American voters oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), while only 34 percent favor it. Additionally, independent voters, who were instrumental in the Republican House takeover, oppose this law by a 52 percent to 34 percent margin.
As we continue to advocate for the passage of this legislation in D.C., we need your help to bring the message home by expressing your strong support for the Respect for Marriage Act. Please take a few moments today by calling your Senators and Representative and urge them to support this legislation today. You can reach your Congress Members by calling 202-224-3121. Thank you for helping us move equality forward.
The Gala – now in its third year – celebrates the contributions of high-profile straight allies who are moving equality forward for their LGBT friends, family, and colleagues in their fields. Through their words, actions, and (often unique) voices they are making the case that equality is an issue for everyone.
This year’s class of awardees once again proved that standing up for what’s right can come in a multitude of different forms and expressions. We heard from Lynn DeStasio at MetLife who proved that inclusion at work is a job for us all (and, based on our gift bags, it seems that Snoopy is in on the conversation, too). Wrestler Hudson Taylor taught us that people don’t need a family connection to support LGBT equality – they just need to see it as the right thing to do. Charlaine Harris (the creator of the Sookie Stackhouse series on which HBO’s series TRUE BLOOD is based) made the simply powerful point that writing her stories is just one more way to help correct the wrongs of inequality. And Rosie Perez fearlessly and in a way that is quintessential Rosie called on everyone to shed their prejudices and speak out.
Oh…and if that wasn’t enough, we had the hysterical comedian and writer Carol Leifer emceeing the show, the amazing Broadway Boys serenading us, and a spectacular and memorable performance from Grammy winner Michael Feinstein.
It was a great party, but more importantly, it was an amazing evening to honor everyone who is changing the face of what equality is. And if, by chance, you weren’t able to join us, there will be another opportunity in April 2012. In the meantime, don’t forget that you can start becoming more engaged by visiting www.straightforequality.org and learning more about the training programs that we’re offering.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Earlier this week, the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) - S. 506 - was introduced by Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the U.S. Senate, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) – H.R. 998 - was introduced by Representative Jared Polis in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both bills aims to build safer safer schools for all students, including those who are perceived or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).
SSIA, S. 506, requires schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill also requires that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education and it would require the Department of Education to provide Congress with a report on the state reported data every two years.
SNDA, H.R. 998, prohibits discrimination on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in schools receiving federal funding, including higher education. The bill recognizes bullying and harassment as discrimination, and it provides both for remedies against discrimination and incentives for schools to prevent it from happening in the first place.
In order to demonstrate strong support for these important bills, we need your help to make this happen by taking action today!
Your voices matter and need to be heard by your Congress Members. Please be sure to take a few minutes and call your Senators to ask them to cosponsor the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA), S. 506, and your Representative to ask them to cosponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), H.R. 998, to establish a comprehensive federal anti-bullying approach.
- To find out who your Congress Members are, please visit our action center and type in your zip code,
- You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your both of your senators’ offices and your representative’s office. When calling, be sure to say your name, and your chapter along with a message encouraging your Congress Member to support S. 506 in the Senate, and H.R. 998 in the House to help create safer schools for all students.
- Share this Alert. Please forward this alert to your family and friends, so we can grow the number of powerful voices supporting safer schools for all students.
Thank you for moving equality forward!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Mark says his experience of helping in the LGBT community has been one of the more rewarding he's ever had.
Thank you, Mark, for sharing your story and your passion for LGBT rights!
Read the full piece here.
Friday, March 4, 2011
Earlier this week, the Movement Advancement Project released its 2010 National LGBT Movement Report. The report examined 39 leading national LGBT organizations—including PFLAG National–analyzing their finances, operations, and their impact on securing full equality for all LGBT individuals.
Some findings were heartening: movement groups are highly efficient at raising money and delivering important programs and services, and the diversity of the staff at these organizations roughly mirrors that of the broader U.S. population.
However, several of the statistics were more both surprising and a bit disheartening:
- The combined investment in programs and services for all of these organization is are only half of the combined annual expenses of just the 10 largest organizations working to oppose LGBT equality.
- Less than 4 percent of all LGBT adults in the U.S. donated $35 or more to these LGBT organizations. While organizations are generally effective at retaining smaller donors year over year, the number of larger donors is dropping and not easily replaced.
Given the difficult political climate and challenging economy, this is an important time to expand support for ongoing efforts to achieve equality.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Earlier this week, PFLAG National joined dozens of national, state and local LGBT organizations expressing support for workers’ rights nationwide. At a time when politicians in over 30 states have proposed anti-union legislation in the 2011 session, it’s more important than ever to stand in solidarity with partner organizations united to protect workers’ rights during these tough economic times. Politicians’ extreme attacks on workers’ fundamental rights would be devastating for our LGBT families, for ALL workers and for all people committed to progressive change in this country. Whether as LGBT workers or community allies of labor, the moment demands we stand up and stand together today!
To read the full statement, please click here.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
On February 24, the Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act (SB 116) by a vote of 25 to 21. This bill extends marriage equality to same-sex couples living in the state, and moves us one step closer to equality for all Marylanders! Now the bill advances to the House of Delegates where a close vote is expected later this week.
Our very own Baltimore and Columbia/Howard County chapters have remained key players in advocating for the passage of this historic legislation. They have dedicated their time and energy in testifying on behalf of the bill before key committees in both the House and Senate. They have also participated in Equality Maryland’s Lobby Day on February 14th, persuading key legislators to support marriage equality. And, as always, they continue to relate their families’ personal stories winning over the hearts and minds of their fellow community members.
If you live in Maryland, we need you to support our chapters’ work by taking a minute to find out who represents you in the House. Before the House of Delegates takes their vote this week, ask your Delegates to vote for the Civil Marriage Protection Act today!
We need your support to help extend the freedom to marry to all Marylanders!
PFLAG National President is an inspiration to all PFLAGers. An Akron rabbi, he stirred controversy 20 years ago when he ‘came out’ to his congregation. Not as a gay man, but as a parent of a lesbian. Since then, Rabbi David Horowitz has dedicated his life to the gay rights movement.
Retired from the Temple Israel synagogue, we are honored to have him as our national president.
WKSU’s Amanda Rabinowitz reports on Horowitz’s journey from tolerance to activism.