America’s Race to Equality Is Leaving the LGBTQ+ Community Behind

There are over 5.5 million LGBTQ+ persons in the United States. Since 2019, an estimated 7,500 hate crimes have been committed against the LGBTQ+ community. 

It’s critical to acknowledge not just America’s progress toward equality, but also the hurdles LGBTQ+ people still face in obtaining fair and equitable employment, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations. 

There are laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in 22 states and two U.S. territories. LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, such as insulting statements and other conduct intended to make LGBTQ+ employees feel uneasy and dangerous, are even more complicated. 

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, between 5 and 10% of LGBTQ+ youth, depending on their age and sex group, have tried suicide, a rate 1.5-3 times greater than heterosexual teenagers. Even if they did not commit suicide, mental illness is likely to afflict all groups, including the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, intersex, and beyond (LGBTQ+) population. People who identify as LGBTQ+ are three times more likely to suffer from mental illness than people who identify as straight. The community has enough to deal with already, without medical prejudice against the group. 

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have substantial challenges in getting accessible and inclusive health care and locating medical practitioners who understand their needs. Many LGBTQ+ people say they put off or postpone seeking medical care because they are concerned about how a doctor would treat them. According to the article “What Is LGBTQ Discrimination? – LGBTQ Rights And Laws” explained, “Bias and stigma in medical, employment, and other social settings can, in this way, not only have a huge mental and emotional toll, but also pose risks to physical health and wellness.” 

In the United States, there is presently no federal legislation that protects people from discrimination in healthcare based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed regulations that would make it easier for medical professionals to discriminate against LGBTQ+ patients, giving them more leeway to reject care based on moral or religious grounds. In May 2017, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began repealing federal regulations barring discrimination against transgender persons seeking healthcare via federally funded programs.

People think that because it is the year 2021, prejudice is no longer an issue, but this is not the case in the United States. Discrimination may be subtle since it might occur when someone least expects it. It may happen at school, in the open, or even behind closed doors. It may happen to you, a close friend, or a family member. 

For instance, when asked about their experiences, an anonymous student said, “I’ve been informed many times that I was in the wrong restroom, or that I should leave the bathroom and try the other.” 

Another student expressed bias from a family member saying, “My dad, he’s like really Christian, you know, qualified Bible, and he doesn’t believe like you’re born homosexual or anything, so he’s quite harsh on that.”

LGBTQ+ people experience prejudice every day in their communities, schools, jobs, and local community spaces across the country. According to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), 44 percent of the LGBTQ+ population in the United Jurisdictions lives in states where discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is legal. In order to seek legal redress, incidents of LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace can be reported to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Human Rights Watch, a non-profit group based in the United States, has also advocated for more rights for LGBTQ+ people in hospital settings.

“Human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent. They are not reserved for the few; they apply to everyone, everywhere. It is essential to reaffirm this fundamental principle and join forces to make it a reality,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO said, “I’m seeing changes in the community, [and] people now realize they’re not alone. …Now no one can ever say we [the LGBTQ+ community] don’t exist,” Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, Co-Founder Freedom and Roam Uganda said.