18 5 / 2013
Yesterday, May 17, 2013, marked the 9th Annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. After seeing the many Facebook posts, tweets, and blog entries that bore the badge of the day – I.D.A.H.O – I have been reflecting on the meaning of the day and have come to the conclusion that it was a perfect time to remind all of us that homophobia and transphobia are alive and well. As Mary Griggs, a fierce advocate for equality in Louisiana, wrote yesterday – it’s about privilege. We all have certain privileges afforded to us, whether we want them or not, because of our race, ethnicity, national origin, language ability, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or even geographic location.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia have legalized marriage for same-sex couples, and the Supreme Court has the opportunity to overturn DOMA. But what about states where LGBT people still don’t have employment protections or effective anti-bullying policies in schools?
This year the Louisiana legislature was again presented with an employment nondiscrimination act that would protect employees of the state from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. And again, the representatives on the House and Governmental Affairs Committee voted against employment protections for LGBT people. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has a map showing other states that do not protect their LGBT employees.
Equality Louisiana, with other coalition members of Stop Bullying Louisiana, has been pushing a positive discipline bill that would provide for restorative practices in schools, rather than zero tolerance policies. This matters for LGBT youth in Louisiana schools because we know LGBT children, along with children of color and children with disabilities, are disproportionately affected by those policies.
HB 646: The Safe and Successful Students Act will come before the full Louisiana House of Representatives for a vote next Wednesday. I hope that we can all take the vigor and determination to end homophobia and transphobia that I saw yesterday into this next week. Take action to end the homophobia and transphobia in our schools by providing adequate training for our teachers, the opportunity for children to learn from their mistakes, and positive school climates that improve student performance – all things within the scope of HB 646. Please ask your representative to vote for this bill.
by Micah Caswell
07 5 / 2013
House Bill 85: The Louisiana Fair Employment Act, a measure that would have protected state employees against discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, failed to pass the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. This means it will not become law this year and we must continue to fight for this policy change again next year and every year after that until it is no longer legal in this state to fire someone for being LGBT.
Despite this setback, we can celebrate one thing. Today marks the first day in history that an openly transgender person has testified in front of the Louisiana Legislature. Elizabeth Jenkins, President of Louisiana Trans Advocates, spoke to the legislative committee about the need for an employment nondiscrimination act for transgender people.
EQLA could not be more proud of Elizabeth’s courage and determination. As one of the founding members of EQLA, Louisiana Trans Advocates is pushing for policies and legislation that will make the lives of ALL LGBT people in Louisiana better.
We applaud the hard work of Representative Austin Badon (D-New Orleans), a longtime LGBT ally in the legislature, who worked with Forum for Equality to bring this bill to the Capitol this legislative session.
Louisiana is among the 34 states that do not currently provide employment protections for LGBT employees. This kind of policy change is essential to ensuring that LGBT workers are safe and secure in their jobs and can put food on the table for their family.
We are committed to continuing this fight next year with Louisiana Trans Advocates and all of our other coalition members. Email us if you are interested in getting involved and helping make our state better for LGBT workers!
by Tucker Barry
05 5 / 2013
Even with the statistical information below presented by our president along with her personal testimony, the Louisiana House and Governmental Affairs Committee did not pass HB 85: The Louisiana Fair Employment Act, which would have afforded employment protections to LGBT state employees.
Nonetheless, we are proud of one thing. For the first time in history, an out trans person has testified in front of the Louisiana Legislature. It is a huge step forward, and we will continue to fight for the rights that trans people in Louisiana deserve.
ECONOMIC STATISTICS (latest Census data for the State of Louisiana)
• second-highest poverty rate in the nation
• third-highest rate of health services uninsured residents
• fourth-lowest median income
4th highest in AIDS case rates - 2008, according to the CDC 2008 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report; Baton Rouge metropolitan area ranked 2nd for AIDS - New Orleans metropolitan area ranked 3rd.
Louisiana is one of 26 states where it’s still acceptable to fire LGBT people because of of their identity. This aggravates poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social problems.
TRANSGENDER and GENDER VARIANT PEOPLE
National Transgender Discrimination Survey
6,450 transgender and gender non-conforming study participants - 2011
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND ECONOMIC INSECURITY
• Double the rate of unemployment: Survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population.
• Widespread mistreatment at work: Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job
• 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being ﬁred, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.
• 26% reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% reported being harassed.
• 16% said they had been compelled to work in the underground economy for income (such as sex work or selling drugs).
• Those transgender and gender variant people currently unemployed experienced debilitating negative outcomes:
· twice the homelessness (of the national average)
· 85% more incarceration
· negative health outcomes from loss of insurance - burden on government and private charities
· more than double the HIV infection rate
- nearly double the rate substance abuse
• High suicide rates- 41 percent suicide rate among transgender people is more than 25 times the rate of the general population, which is 1.6 percent.