Members of the LGBT community face the same obstacles and struggles as other individuals, but they also face unique challenges based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
LGBT people are widely discriminated against in the United States, and although steps have been made in the right direction, there are still many problems to be solved.
In the context of this blog, LGBT people (particularly youth) disproportionately suffer from economic challenges including poverty and homelessness. This isn’t the place for flowery words or platitudes; I’ll just start listing facts and when you feel like you’ve seen enough, skip to the end and get involved whatever way you can — if you feel the need to do so.
- More LGBT adults suffer from poverty than heterosexual adults, even after accounting for many of the factors associated with poverty.
- There are about 9 million identified LGBT people in the U.S., and almost half of those are lesbian and bisexual women; 24 percent of these women are poor, compared to 19 percent of heterosexual women.
- 6 million youth experience homelessness in the U.S. each year, and between 20 percent-40 percent of them identify as LGBT.
- Children of same-sex couples have poverty rates twice those of children with heterosexual parents. Being denied the legal and economic protections of marriage contributes to this.
- Transgender individuals are four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the average US person.
- Ninety percent of transgender individuals surveyed by the Williams Institute surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment on the job. Almost 1 in 5 reported being homeless at some point in their lives.
- Nineteen states lack almost any form of legal protection for LGBT people.
- Gay and lesbian workers can be legally fired in 29 states; transgender individuals can be denied comprehensive health insurance in 42 states; and lesbian couples can be evicted in 29 states; all based on these people’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Among homeless LGBT girl aged 13-15 in NYC, half are homeless because of rape by a family member based on the girl’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Sixty-two percent of LGBT homeless youth attempt suicide. They are three times more likely to turn to survival sex and prostitution, have six times higher incidence rates of mental health and substance abuse, and are seven times more likely to experience sexual violence than other homeless youth.
These aren’t just numbers; they’re people’s lives – their struggles, their broken families, their tragedies. As someone with a transgender parent, as someone whose friends have been assaulted and raped for expressing who they are, as someone who identifies on the LGBT spectrum but doesn’t act on it for fear of discrimination, these struggles are deeply personal to me. We can do better. We have to.