Category Archives: Action Alert

OPEN LETTER ABOUT CORONAVIRUS AND THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES

Over 100 Organizations Sign On To Letter Outlining Added Risk

As the spread of the novel coronavirus a.k.a. COVID-19 increases, many LGBTQ+ people are understandably concerned about how this virus may affect us and our communities. The undersigned want to remind all parties handling COVID-19 surveillance, response, treatment, and media coverage that LGBTQ+ communities are among those who are particularly vulnerable to the negative health effects of this virus.

Our increased vulnerability is a direct result of three factors:

  1. 
The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
  2. The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
  3. LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent – and perhaps not even then.

In addition, there are more than 3 million LGBTQ+ older people living in the United States. LGBTQ+ elders are already less likely than their heterosexual and cisgender peers to reach out to health and aging providers, like senior centers, meal programs, and other programs designed to ensure their health and wellness, because they fear discrimination and harassment. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people – the current mortality rate is at 15% for this population – makes this a huge issue for the LGBTQ+ communities as well.

LGBTQ+ communities are very familiar with the phenomena of stigma and epidemics. We want to urge people involved with the COVID-19 response to ensure that LGBTQ+ communities are adequately served during this outbreak. Depending on your role, appropriately serving our communities could involve any of the following actions:

  • 
Ensuring that media coverage notes the particular vulnerabilities of any person with pre-existing respiratory illnesses, compromised immune systems or who uses tobacco products. While populations – like LGBTQ+ communities – can be at increased risk, it is important to note the overall state of health that contributes to any person’s increased vulnerability to contracting COVID-19.
  • 
Ensuring health messaging includes information tailored to communities at increased risk for COVID-19, including LGBTQ+ populations. An example of such tailored messaging is including imagery of LGBTQ+ persons in any graphic ads.
  • Providing LGBTQ+ individuals resources to find welcoming providers, such as the ones provided here, if they are experiencing symptoms like a cough or fever and need to seek medical attention.
  • Ensuring funding to community health centers is distributed in a fashion that accounts for the additional burden anticipated by LGBTQ-identified health centers.
Whenever possible ensuring health agencies partner with community-based organizations to get messaging out through channels we trust.
  • Ensuring surveillance efforts capture sexual orientation and gender identity as part of routine demographics.
  • 
Ensuring health workers are directed to provide equal care to all regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity/presentation, ability, age, national origin, immigration status, race, or ethnicity.
  • Ensuring that all COVID-19 responses take into account exceptionally vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ communities, including our elders, bi people, and black and brown trans and gender nonconforming/nonbinary people.
  • Since xenophobic responses are heavily impacting the Asian American communities, ensuring all communications and responses related to COVID-19 attempt to counter any such xenophobic responses, avoid racial profiling, and discourage the public from doing so as well.
  • Ensuring LGBTQ+ health leadership, along with all providers and health care centers, are provided with timely and accurate information to disseminate.

As LGBTQ+ community and health leadership, the undersigned organizations offer to stand shoulder to shoulder with the mainstream health leadership to make sure we learn from history and do not allow any population to be disproportionately impacted or further stigmatized by a virus.


Initial signers:
National LGBT Cancer Network
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Whitman-Walker Health
SAGE
New York Transgender Advocacy Group
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Additional Signers:
Advocates for Youth
Advocating Opportunity
Alder Health Services
Antioch University MFA Program
Athlete Ally
Atlanta Pride Committee
BiNet USA
Black Lives Matter Houston
Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center
California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
CARES
Center on Halsted
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Compass LGBTQ Community Center
Corktown Health Center
Counter Narrative Project
CreakyJoints & Global Healthy Living Foundation
CrescentCare
Darker Sister Center
Deaf Queer Resource Center
Desert AIDS Project
Desi Queer Diaspora
Equality California
Equality Federation
Equality North Carolina
Erie Gay News
Family Equality
Fenway Health
GALAEI
Gay City: Seattle’s LGBTQ Center
Gender Equality New York, Inc. (GENY)
Gender Justice League (Washington State)
Georgia Equality
GLAAD
GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz
Greater Erie Alliance for Equality
Greater Palm Springs Pride
Harvey Milk Foundation
Hetrick-Martin Institute
HIV AIDS Alliance of Michigan
HIV Medicine Association
Horizons Foundation
Howard Brown Health
Human Rights Campaign
Independence Business Alliance
Indiana Youth Group
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Inside Out Youth Services
InterPride
Keystone Business Alliance
Lambda Legal
Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN)
Lansing Association for Human Rights
Legacy Community Health
LGBT Center of Greater Reading
LGBT Center of Raleigh
LGBT Elder Initiative
LGBTQ Center OC
MassEquality
Matthew Shepard Foundation
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Minority Veterans of America
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for LGBT Health
National Equality Action Team
National LGBTQ Task Force
Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center
No Justice No Pride
Oasis Legal Services
Oklahomans for Equality
Our Family Coalition
Out Alliance
Out And Equal
Out Boulder County
OutCenter of Southwest Michigan
OutFront Kalamazoo
OutRight International
Pennsylvania Youth Congress
Persad Center, Inc.
PFund Foundation
Pizza Klatch
Positive Women’s Network
Pride Center of the Capital Region
Pride Center Of Vermont
Princess Janae Place Inc
Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County
Rockland County Pride Center
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
SAVE – Safeguarding American Values for Everyone
SERO Project
SF LGBT Community Center
SisTers PGH
St. James Infirmary
Still Bisexual
The LGBTQ Center Long Beach
The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center
The Montrose Center
The Social Impact Center
The Source LGBT+ Center
The Trevor Project
Thomas Judd Care Center
Thundermist Health Center
Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
Triangle Community Center
Trillium Health
TriVersity Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity
UNIFIED-HIV Health and Beyond
U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus
Wellness AIDS Services
William Way LGBT Community Center

Our Families On Trial

 

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in what promises to be one of the most significant civil rights cases in our lifetimes. It will determine whether existing federal law prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ people, but it will impact the lives of a majority of Americans.

Opponents of equality — including our very own Department of Justice — told the highest court in the land with dramatic vehemence that the case for equality is convoluted, that you have to bend over backward in order to understand it, that it’s just a cynical attempt by radical queers to “bootstrap” protections into the law where no lawmaker intended them to be.

It’s an insidious talking point. It encourages people to not bother even trying to understand. It doesn’t just overblow the complexity of what is actually pretty straightforward logic; it underestimates the attention of the people watching.

I hope you’re watching.

And I hope that when you do, you remember that your voice matters, and you can use it:

Organizations like OFC have been working hard to ensure our community remains as strong as we can – regardless of where the legal and political winds blow.

And wherever they take us: know that we’ll be there with you.

East Bay funding: in process, stay tuned!

A quick update on our ongoing work securing the resources we need to provide the support programming, school trainings, and family advocacy we so love to provide for LGBTQ families in Oakland.

In late May we learned our regular funding was not renewed (after nearly 10 very successful grantee years), and that we needed to appeal to the Oakland City Council.  Since then the Oakland City Council has been reviewing and debating amendments to the year’s budget, which include funding provisions for so many urgently needed Oakland resources: fair pay for Oakland workers; proper supports and resources for unhoused Oaklanders, park maintenance, fire abatement, and so much more.

We’ve attended and spoken at the past two City Council meetings, last night reminding City Council members just how many LGBTQ-headed families call Oakland home (a ton: Oakland’s got the state’s largest % of LGBTQ families), how many districts we live in (all of them), and how many of us really need the support the City of Oakland would provide.

If you haven’t yet, please let the City Council know that resources for LGBTQ families are indeed very much noticed and and very much needed:

The City Council will have one last meeting next Monday, June 24th (cliff hanger!), at which they’ll vote on the amended budget proposal.  Throughout this process, we’ve put our thinking caps on  around summer programming, and will share again when the full picture comes into focus next week.

Meanwhile, thank you for your ongoing support.  OFC was founded over 20 years ago by LGBTQ parent community members with vision and initiative, and we will continue to thrive with that same vision and initiative.

Help us save Oakland funding!

Our Family Coalition’s Oakland-based programming needs your support! 

For over twenty years, Our Family Coalition (OFC) has served Oakland and East Bay LGBTQ+ families, providing support groups, play groups, workshops, and community events. Each year over 750 LGBTQ community members rely on our Oakland support groups, playgroups, workshops, and community events.

Over 1,400 community members come to our Oakland Pride Family Garden alone–now our biggest Pride event ever–many for the very first time as out LGBTQ families.

For nearly ten years we’ve been proud grantees of the City of Oakland, confident of our strong and continued presence in the city that’s home to the largest community of LGBTQ families in California.

This year we were shocked to hear
we were denied our Oakland funding!

We know: the denial of funds wasn’t based on the success of the programming itself–we’ve met or exceeded every goal of our Oakland grants, year after year.

We’re worried: the reason behind our loss of funding is precisely the reason our support services are so dearly needed, now more than ever: our most vulnerable families are the most invisible.

So long as misconceptions about LGBTQ families remain unchallenged– that we’re not also immigrants, working class and poor families, families of color, with our kids in Oakland Unified School District schools– critical, life-changing supports for allLGBTQ+ families will be lost.

We can’t let that happen!

Oakland City Councilmember At Large Rebecca Kaplan will be introducing a budget at the upcoming June 10th City Council meeting which will restore LGBTQ+ family support funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

Here’s how to help:

1. OAKLAND RESIDENTS, EMAIL YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER to demand they support LGBTQ Families in Oakland by voting “Yes” on Rebecca Kaplan’s budget.

Let them know why it matters so much to you that Oakland LGBTQ family support remains fully funded!

If you live outside Oakland but come to and rely on Oakland programming, contact Rebecca Kaplan and say the same

2. CALL THEM to back up that email!

3. COME TO THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING on Monday, June 10, at 5:00pm in the City Council Chambers, 3rd floor, Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza,  [map]

• Gather together and rally our spirit from 4pm on at Awaken Cafe with our friends Alphabet Rockers! Just a block away at 1429 Broadway; we’ll be there from 3:30pm on. [map]

• Alphabet Rockers will rev up our inspiration for the City Council with a listening session of their new album “The Love” – written in partnership with OFC!  Hear songs lifting up our gender diversity and the power of our community before we head into the City Council!

FIND YOUR OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT & REPRESENTATIVE
CONTACT INFO HERE
 [opens interactive map]

Conservative parents are engaged: are you?

Dangerous anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is in full swing, and we need to respond.

Less than two weeks following the California Department of Education’s passage of the new LGBTQ-inclusive Sexual Health Framework, a conservative, anti-LGBTQ organization is misleading and rallying parents against inclusive education, inciting protests and threatening educators and administrators.

Deliberate falsehoods have been circulated to stir up opposition to LGBTQ inclusion. Here are  the facts:

  • This newly inclusive Framework provides guidance and support, not mandates, for teachers and schools.
  • Every family has and continues to have the right to determine what their child learns about sex education.
  • One in ten California middle and high schoolers identifies as LGBTQ, and they deserve medically accurate, age-appropriate lessons every bit as much as their cisgender and heterosexually-identified peers.
  • When surveyed, 89% of California parents supported comprehensive sex ed in schools.
  • Teachers up and down the state have asked for these resources to help answer the hard questions and ensure every kid in their class feels seen and safe.  Help us support them!

Donate what you can today to enable OFC to do more of what we do so well: train schools how to approach LGBTQ-affirmative and inclusive education in ways that work–for every teacher, and every student.

Contact OFC’s Education Team to find plug in as a volunteer to support this critical advocacy–in our office, at your child’s school, or even from home.

Let’s not let this very vocal minority distort the issues and rob our kids of the balanced, inclusive education they deserve.

Are you ready to become OFC’s next Interim ED?

Dear community and families,

Earlier this week, I announced that I will be transitioning out of my role as Executive Director of Our Family Coalition at the end of June. And now I’m back to invite all of you all to spread the word about this unique opportunity to lead California’s premier LGBTQ family organization that I love so dearly. 

As noted by our Board co-chair Steve Disselhorst, “We are incredibly grateful for the dedication Renata has shown this organization, and we are already working to identify a stellar candidate who can fill her shoes and continue moving OFC forward.” 

I invite you to help Steve, the Board, and our team to identify OFC’s next leader! A transition like this provides the organization with a special opportunity to grow in new directions, and we want your vision to inform that.

Again, it has been an honor to work for and with LGBTQ families and our allies in California over the past seven years, and I look forward to onboarding a match made in heaven to lead OFC’s next chapter.  

Here is the link to the job description, which includes details on how to apply. Please feel free to share this opportunity with your networks, and contact the search committee with any leads or suggestions! 

Sincerely,

 

 

Renata Moreira
Executive Director

Equality Act of 2019: Don’t believe the (negative) hype

The Equality Act will be voted on next week–May 13-18, 2019–let your elected representative know: it’s time for federal equality for all LGBTQ people.

As any quick Google search on “Equality Act” will show you, the right wing is working overtime to discredit this piece of historic legislation. It’s big for all of us, but utterly necessary–truly, life-changing– for those of us living in the over 30 states in which one can be legally denied employment, housing, public accommodations, you name it, simply based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Contrary to the negative hype (for examples, just check out this Advocate article), the Equality Act is not going to squash protections for anyone, or trigger a tsunami of lawsuits. In fact it will expand protections, and not only on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Want to learn more? Read on! Because below we’ve got Equality Act true facts in several formats. You may prefer simply the text of the bill itself. Or you could use an explainer video, or maybe an infographic. And for those who like their facts raw we’ve got those too, in a series of ten bullet points. Links at the bottom of the post show the sources for all the info.

And what to do, once you’ve answered your questions and are ready to act?

  • Confirm whether or not your congressional representative has signed on to the Equality Act. If they have, please call or write them to thank them, and let them know you will strongly support their “yes” vote next week. Find your Representative here. Then check the H.R.5 – Equality Act cosponsors list here.
  • Connect with friends and family whose representatives have not signed on, and encourage them to urge their representatives to get on the right side of history, while they still can–i.e. before their next re-election campaign!

We get it: with a majority of Senators in lock-step with a virulently anti-LGBTQ administration, we don’t expect the Act to be passed by the Senate or signed into law by the President. But passage in the House of Representatives, with a decisively strong majority, sends a powerful message to every 2020 presidential candidate: the time for unapologetic support of federal LGBTQ civil rights and protections is now.


THE BILL ITSELF: Just like the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equality Act consists of just a few, super-clear statements. Five, to be exact:

This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.


The bill expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.


The bill allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.


The bill prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.

H.R.5 – Equality Act, 116th Congress (2019-2020)

EXPLAINER VIDEO: if you (or someone you’re looking to persuade) like your overview in a quickie animation-filled video, here’s a 3-minute ditty from HRC:


INFOGRAPHIC: if you like a good infographic, here’s a beaut from UCLA’s Williams Institute:

from The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law: Impact of the Equality Act on LGBT People in the U.S., March, 2019.

FACTS & FIGURES: here are ten quick facts for your back pocket (or your purse! or both!):

  • 42% of LGB people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
  • 78% of transgender people report experiencing discrimination on the job because of who they are;
  • only 21 states have laws explicitly banning discrimination based on sexual orientation; and
  • only 20 states have laws banning discrimination based on gender identity.

And, on the plus-side:

  • 164 businesses–representing $3.8 trillion in revenue, 8.7 million employees, and operations in 50 states, with headquarters in 27 states–have endorsed the Equality Act
  • 70% of Americans support LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws

The Equality Act would:

  • amend existing law, including: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Jury Selection and Service Act;
  • clarify that at the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used as a defense for discrimination on any basis;
  • apply to the same employers as the Civil Rights Act does–namely private and public-sector employers with 15 or more employees;
  • maintain exemptions that allow religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, and societies to hire only individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with their religious activities, written in such a way as to assure reasonable people that religious protections are going to operate in the same way they always have.

For further reading and where we got our numbers:What the Equality Act Means for LGBTQ Americans,” by Trudy Ring at The Advocate, March 13, 2019; Wikipedia entry on Equality Act (United States), retrieved May 7, 2019; Public Religion Research Institute’s Fifty Years After Stonewall: Widespread Support for LGBT Issues – Findings from American Values Atlas 2018, by Daniel Greenberg et al., March 26, 2019; and UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute: “LGBT People in the U.S. Not Protected by State Nondiscrimination Statues” (opens PDF), published March 2019 and updated April 2019.


Urge Congress to advance the FAMILY Act Today!

Our Family Coalition calls on Congress to advance the the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, a major piece of legislation reintroduced in Congress on Feb 12 by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) with the goal of establishing our nation’s FIRST federal insurance program for paid family and medical leave.
Senator Gillibrand at a podium bearing the sign Pass the #FAMILYAct

This LGBTQ-inclusive measure would ensure employees have access to 12 weeks of partial income if they take time off to care for a health problem of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner, the birth or adoption of a child, or military caregiving and leave purposes.

The proposal also makes leave available to every individual regardless of the size of their current employer or whether such individual is currently employed by an employer, self-employed or currently unemployed, as long as the person has sufficient earnings and work history.

We at Our Family Coalition believe that the FAMILY Act is a huge step forward to addressing our country’s paid family and medical leave crisis and that – when it becomes the law of the land – it will benefit working people, our families, businesses and our nation’s economy.

The National Partnership for Women & Families prepared a fact sheet on the bill.

Please contact your Congressional representative at the U.S. House of Representatives and urge them to support the FAMILY Act today!

Pass the #FamilyAct!

We can and must defeat this anti-LGBTQ family amendment

Every week we are faced with another gratuitous challenge to the gains LGBTQ people and our families had so recently made, or an affront to human decency. This week it’s both.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a harshly anti-LGBTQ family amendment to an existing bill, allowing child service agencies widespread license to discriminate against LGBTQ people –or against interfaith couples, or single parents, or any other prospective parents who don’t pass the agency’s or its staff’s religious muster.

And more: the bill not only enshrines discrimination based on “religious or moral beliefs,” but it would discriminate against states who ban anti-LGBT discrimination in child placement services – such as ours – by denying such states 15% of their federal annual adoption dispersals. The effect: the federal government would disproportionately fund adoption and foster placements in “religious recusal” or legally discriminatory states.

This is more than outrageous, this is inhumane. More than 440,000 children are in foster care right now; 117,000 are waiting for adoption; more than 20,000 age out before finding a permanent family. Two million LGBTQ adults have expressed interest in becoming foster or adoptive parents: it’s beyond time to end this pointless discrimination, in the best interest of the children.

Because the amendment is attached to the bill that provides funding for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, to kill this amendment representatives need to vote against the entire funding package. But House Democrats and moderate Republicans could work together against, and they must.

We know from impacts on the Affordable Care Act and family separation that public outcry has an impact. Our voices can and will make a difference!

Here’s what you can do today:

  • Contact your representative. Demand they oppose this inhumane attempt to enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide. If they’re already on record in opposition, encourage them to raise their voice louder, and assure them you have their back.
  • Join the mailing list of the Every Child Deserves a Family campaign to stay updated: ECDF is a federal act – introduced last year by John Lewis (D-GA) in the House and Kirsten Gillebrand (D-NY) in the Senate – calling on child welfare agencies to make placement decisions on the basis of the best interest of the child, not an agency’s or its workers’ religious beliefs.
  • Share your story: Our Family Coalition is always interested in collecting and publishing your story, whether you are a foster parent or youth, an LGBTQ parent, a child welfare professional, or an ally. Or join the Speaker’s Bureau at Our Family Coalition. In print or in person, your voice will help spread real understanding about real families. We need this now more than ever.

We are here for one another; we are here for the children, and we will continue fighting against bigotry, together, in the name of love.

Families Belong Together

On June 20th the Trump Administration signed an executive order apparently stopping their policy of separating families at the border. This is a false victory, with severe repercussions. The executive order, known as “Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation,” still allows for continued prosecution of immigrant families and will encourage their indefinite incarceration–only now, together. There is much work to be done to protect our immigrant communities, which include thousands of LGBTQ individuals and families escaping persecution.

If this inhumane executive order stands, babies and innocent children will continue to be incarcerated in tent cities, cages, and even federal jails indefinitely, while families are criminally prosecuted awaiting the outcome of their deportation cases. Furthermore, this order does not provide any redress  to families that have already been separated, nor does it include any plans to reunite children with their parents. 

We must continue to vigorously oppose any threats to the safety and well-being of all families at every opportunity, which brings us to “Pride with Action.”

As you know, we’ll be marching in the San Francisco Pride Parade this Sunday, June 24th:

Contingent #22, meeting on Steuart between Mission and Howard as of 9am

We are humbled to have been awarded SF Pride’s José Sarria History Maker Award for our work helping to advance LGBTQ inclusion in California schools. It is fitting, then, to remember: history is made up of what we do–or don’t do–every day, and likewise history will judge us for those actions–or that inaction.

We remember that Pride commemorates a riot that launched the modern LGBTQ liberation movement, whose accomplishments make so much of the comfort and mobility of our queer lives possible. Let us reclaim the streets on Sunday and in the days coming, in solidarity with all our community, inspired to continue the necessary work before us.

What can you do?

TODAY 

  • Call your elected official and demand a NO vote on Paul Ryan’s Immigration Bill, which is designed to exploit this crisis and enshrine family separation. The vote has been postponed ‘til next week and its passage would be disastrous.
  • SUPPORT SB 3036
    • Dial 202-224-3121
    • Say your ZIP Code
    • When connected, simply say: “I LIVE IN City, State AND I SUPPORT SB3036”

THIS SUNDAY AT PRIDE

  • Bring signs in solidarity. Remember the struggle is intersectional; let’s call attention to all marginalized voices

GOING FORWARD

And may we all continue to educate ourselves, our families, and friends in our journeys toward being effective allies to all marginalized communities. We are, more than ever, in this together.